China operates cruise ship to flaunt territorial claims

SHANGHAI - China appears ready to peacefully settle regional tensions over disputed islands in the South China Sea. But it is also effectively claiming control over the area by operating a cruise ship there.

On Aug. 5, a ministerial meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) was held in Kuala Lumpur. During a joint press conference, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gave a ceramic plate to Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn.

The plate has a Chinese character which means "Thailand" written on it. Wang told his counterpart that the character also means "peaceful."

Wang said the gift is a sign of thanks for Tanasak, who worked as a coordinator for the ARF. While Thailand is not involved in any territorial dispute with China, its relations with the US are cooling under the ongoing military rule.

His gift was a gesture of thanks for Thailand taking a pro-China stance over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the biggest focus of the ARF. But it also indicated China's public stance of peacefully resolving the disputes.

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