SINGAPORE, June 4 (Xinhua) -- The sound momentum towards greater stability in the South China Sea must not be disrupted, said Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu on Sunday.
Thanks to the concerted efforts of regional countries, the situation in the South China Sea has generally remained stable, and regional exchanges and cooperation have grown stronger, Li said in his speech at the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue.
Some countries outside the region exercise their "hegemony of navigation" in the name of "freedom of navigation." They want to muddy the waters to rake in profits, Li said, stressing that regional countries should stay highly vigilant and firmly reject these acts.
Solidarity among regional countries needs to be cherished, he said.
China and countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are connected by geography, culture and family bonds, and people in this region treat each other like brothers and sisters. It is natural for neighbors to disagree with each other from time to time, Li said.
While countries in the region are engaging in communication and consultation for proper settlement of differences, some countries outside the region keep sowing discords and fanning the flame, Li said, calling on regional countries to stay clear-eyed and level-headed over the benefits and risks.
The prospects for regional peace and cooperation are promising, Li said. "Only by strengthening practical cooperation and expanding common interests can we better achieve more win-win and all-win outcomes."
Li pledged that China will join hands with other regional countries, keep in mind the big picture and long-term interests, fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and push forward the negotiations of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, so as to build the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation. ■