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China, ASEAN to 'work hard' for 'maintaining peace, stability' in South China Sea

Beijing, Mon, 02 Apr 2012 ANI

Beijing, Apr 2 (ANI): China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should work hard to boost practical cooperation and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, according to a joint statement due to be issued by China and Cambodia.

The statement said both the nations agreed that 'China and ASEAN countries would give full play to all the existing mechanisms including the guidelines for the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) to make it a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation'.

Covering an area of over 3.5 million square kilometers, the South China Sea is believed to hold vast deposits of oil and natural gas and is a conduit for more than one-third of the world's seaborne trade and half its traffic in oil and gas.

Yet ties between China and some ASEAN countries have been strained in recent years due to overlapping claims in the South China Sea among China and four other ASEAN countries - the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

To resolve the dispute, China and ASEAN members signed the DOC in 2002, in which they pledged to jointly safeguard regional stability, cooperate in the area and resolve disputes through peaceful talks between the direct claimants, The China Daily reports.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Hu Jintao's four-day state visit to Cambodia, which holds the rotating chair of ASEAN in 2012 and plays an important role in East Asian cooperation and China-ASEAN relations, would come to an end on Monday.

Jintao's visit is the first by a Chinese head of state to Cambodia in 12 years and was called "a complete success" in the joint statement.

The statement said the visit 'it is of great practical and long-term strategic significance for China and Cambodia to deepen strategic mutual trust and increase practical cooperation.' (ANI)

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