Official reiterates China's dead-set stance on territorial disputes as tensions rise in contested waters

A reporter takes photos of Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi who is delivering a speech at the Third World Peace Forum on Saturday. Photo: Ding Yi/

A senior Chinese official restated the country's dead-set stance on the territorial disputes, in a sign that the rising power has no plan to give concessions to its neighboring countries in spats over sovereignty over a string of islands in the East China Sea and South China Sea.

"China will firmly safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and believes that the disputes and divergences between China and other countries concerned should be settled through direct talks," said Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi in a speech at the Third World Peace Forum in Beijing on Saturday.

China will never trade its core interests and will never swallow the bitter fruits that jeopardize its sovereignty, security and development interests, said the former foreign minister.

"China is committed to peacefully resolving the territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interest disputes with the relevant countries. China will promote direct talks and negotiations to deal with the disputes with the greatest sincerity," said Yang, adding that China has solved land border disputes with 12 out of 14 neighboring countries through consultations.

In the East China Sea, Japan and China have recently accused each others' air forces of dangerous behavior over the disputed Diaoyu Islands, following long-standing quarrels since World War II over the sovereignty of the uninhabited islands that are actually under control of Japan, but also claimed by China.

China and Vietnam are embroiled in a furious confrontation after a Chinese state-run company deployed an oil rig off the coast of Vietnam in the contested South China Sea, which triggered nationwide anti-Chinese riots in the Southeast Asian nation.

China is also harassed by the Philippines in disputes over a group of islands and reefs in the South China Sea, whose escalated provocations are the result of what China says is US strategy of rebalancing to Asia and its commitments to its Asian allies.

In the speech, Yang said that the countries which are involved in the East and South China Sea disputes should resolve the rift through negotiations and consultations, and should base the possible solutions on historical facts and international law.

Yang did not mention US role in regional territorial disputes in his speech, but China has blamed US pivot to Asia for increasing tensions in the East China Sea and South China Sea.

Yang also proposed a concept of Asian security in which a country's security cannot be a sacrificial lamb of another country's security, saying that every country should fully respect each other's choice of development path and social system.

The Third World Peace Forum was held at Beijing's Tsinghua University on Saturday and Sunday. With the theme of "peace, mutual trust and responsibility", this year’s forum attracted more than 500 former state heads, think tank leaders, international security strategists and international relations experts from all over the world to discuss ways to overcome security dilemma.

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