China discusses South China Sea issue with Indonesia, Philippines

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Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie discussed the South China Sea issue with leaders from Indonesia and the Philippines during his visit to three southeast Asian nations, a Defense Ministry spokesman said in Beijing on Wednesday.

Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said at a monthly press conference that Liang reiterated China's principles and position on the South China Sea issue when meeting with leaders from the two countries.

During his stay in the Philippines, Liang met with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

While in Indonesia, he met with Indonesian Vice President Boediono, his Indonesian counterpart Purnomo Yusgiantoro and Coordinating Minister for Political, Law and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto.

Liang said that China has always insisted that the South China Sea issue should not be internationalized and should be dealt with based on bilateral mechanism, according to the spokesman.

Geng said the Indonesian side agreed that all relevant parties should try to safeguard the peace and stability of the South China Sea and hopes to solve the issue through bilateral negotiations.

China expects relevant parties to recognize their differences and maintain smooth communication in order to solve the issue in a peaceful way, said Geng.

China appreciates the stances of the two countries on the issue, he added.

China signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Nov. 4, 2002 with the aim of maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea.

It has been more than five years since China's Defense Minister last visited Singapore and more than four years since Indonesia and the Philippines were visited.

Geng said Liang's visit to Singapore, Indonesia and Philippines has cemented China's friendship with the three nations and enhanced mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation.

During his stay in Indonesia, Liang also attended a breakfast meeting with defense ministers from ASEAN nations and had unofficial talks with his ASEAN counterparts.

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