China says committed to ‘friendly’ talks on maritime disputes – World

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QINGDAO (China): A senior Chinese defence official said Monday that Beijing sought to resolve maritime disputes through “friendly consultation”, speaking at the formal opening of a naval forum attended by top brass from the United States and Russia.

Navy representatives from 29 countries including Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, India and Australia are expected to attend the four-day Western Pacific Naval Symposium in Qingdao, on China’s east coast.

They will discuss maritime peace and security, global maritime governance and relevant international laws, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of the ruling Communist Party’s Central Military Commission, called for parties to “work together to create peace and tranquillity”. “China is consistently committed to resolving maritime disputes through friendly consultation directly with the countries party to them,” Zhang said.

“But we will not permit arbitrary abuses, nor accept distortions of international law,” he warned. “We will legitimately uphold our rights in response to deliberate violations and resolutely take reasonable countermeasures in response to groundless provocations,” Zhang said.

Washington and other capitals have chided China for its assertive behaviour around self-ruled Taiwan, which is claimed by Beijing and regularly detects large numbers of Chinese ships and aircraft deployed around its territory.

Beijing has also had repeated confrontations with US ally the Philippines around disputed reefs in the South China Sea — a vital waterway China claims almost in its entirety despite an international court ruling that its claims are invalid.

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