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People's Daily Online

'Japan is not a party concerned in the South China Sea issue'

People's Daily Online

By Gao Yinan (People's Daily Online) 14:01, November 18, 2015

China has already made its position clear that APEC is not an appropriate venue for discussing the South China Sea disputes, but Japan has other plans.

It is reported that on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with leaders from the EU, the UK and Germany, and when Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met with the Thai Foreign Minister at the APEC Ministerial Meeting, the Japanese side kept discussing the issue of the South China Sea and expressing the hope for deeper cooperation to ensure respect for the "rule of law" and freedom of navigation in East Asia.

China's Foreign Ministry responded particularly sharply to Japan's interest in the issue. Spokesperson Hong Lei said on Tuesday that China was 'dissatisfied' with Abe's frequent references to the disputes, and accused Japan of 'hyping up' the disputes. 'We urge the Japanese side to stop making groundless accusations on the South China Sea issue,' Hong said.

China's rights and interests in the South China Sea, backed by comprehensive historical evidence, should be respected. 'Japan is not a party concerned in the South China Sea issue," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei.

Hong said, 'Japan's words and deeds on the matter run counter to the momentum of improving bilateral ties and undercut regional stability and development.'

As the most important economic and trade forum in the Asia-Pacific region, APEC has avoided talk of political and security issues, as agreed by most of its members.

Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said that China wants APEC summits to focus on promoting economic growth, rather than the South China Sea disputes. But he also acknowledged this is unlikely to happen: "Although we don't want to see the South China Sea issue became a hot topic at the summit, it is unavoidable that some countries may take up the matter," Liu said, according to Xinhua.

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