More harmony for China, neighbours if there is mutual respect: Li

More harmony for China, neighbours if there is mutual respect: Li

BEIJING - China and its neighbours can make more "harmonious sounds" and less "jarring noises", provided all sides practise mutual respect and pursue win-win cooperation, said Premier Li Keqiang.

Mr Li was giving his outlook on China's relations with neighbouring countries, which have been marred by bilateral tensions, at a press conference on Thursday after the close of the national parliamentary session.

"When neighbours interact with one another, it is only natural that sometimes they will run into problems of some kind or another...

"As long as they respect one another, properly manage differences and pursue mutual benefits, there will be harmonious sounds instead of jarring noises," he said.

There has been no lack of noises arising from China's territorial spats with Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea and with four ASEAN countries and Taiwan in the South China Sea.

Fears of an armed conflict have arisen in recent years as China and its neighbours deploy more ships and planes to the disputed areas. But Mr Li said on Thursday that China, still a developing country, needs peace and stability in the regional and global environment to continue growing.

It is committed to peaceful development even though its resolve to protect its territorial sovereignty is unshakeable, he added.

Peace and stability are also the common desire of all in China and the region, said the Premier as he recounted a chat he had with a shopkeeper during a visit to Vietnam last October.

"She said it's good to be friendly and peaceful, which I think is what many want too," said Mr Li, who stressed the importance of mutual respect, among other things, to grow China's ties with the United States and trade with Europe.

"So, we all need to work together, expand areas of common interests and minimise differences. That way, we can coexist and benefit the people."

kianbeng@sph.com.sg


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