Nov 17, 2012

China - China to focus on ASEAN economic ties

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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is to focus on economic co-operation at the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings this week that will include US President Barack Obama.

Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said on Saturday that China was more interested in deepening economic ties in the region as a stabilising force in the global economy than focusing on lingering disputes in the South China Sea.

"We need to focus on co-operation and development and send correct signals to the market," Fu said. "We should not be distracted by some problems and deviate from our direction."

Tensions have been flaring over maritime disputes in the region, including rival claims by China, the Philippines and Vietnam to South China Sea islands and waters that are believed to be rich in gas and oil and straddle busy shipping routes.

Fu told a news conference that China and other countries bordering the South China Sea had successfully managed their disputes and prevented them from escalating into major conflicts.

"Dialogues, negotiations and management have given us peace and stability, allowing us to focus on economic development and make achievements," she said.

Fu reiterated China's stand of resolving disputes on a bilateral basis instead of bringing them up at regional or international meetings.

The meetings are scheduled to start on Sunday in Phnom Penh and are organised by the 10 members of ASEAN. China is not part of the group but holds talks with it. Leaders from Japan and South Korea are also to take part.

It had not been decided whether Wen would meet Obama separately, Fu said.

While in Cambodia, Wen will make a formal visit to the country and hold talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen. The two sides are expected to sign documents on economic technology and education.

Wen is then scheduled to make a state visit to Thailand before ending his trip on Wednesday. He will meet with members of the Thai royal family and hold talks with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on a range of issues, including trade and investment.


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