China: Asia-Pacific need not choose sides in sovereignty row

Indo Asian News Service

Beijing, March 15 (IANS) China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang on Wednesday said countries of the Asia-Pacific should not feel compelled to choose between China and the US in the region's sovereignty disputes.

"China does not want to see any party feeling compelled to choose sides under the influence of a Cold War mentality," Li said at a press conference.

China believes the sovereignty disputes between countries in the region should be resolved individually and through talks, he said.

"We hope to see continuing peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region," the Prime Minister said at the close of the annual session of the National People's Congress, China's legislature.

Li urged all countries to work together to achieve that objective and stressed there are ample opportunities in the region for bilateral cooperation between China and the US, Efe news reported.

The Prime Minister also hoped for expanded cooperation between the two countries, which could provide more opportunities to member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Li's remarks come a week after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned US President Donald Trump's administration against interfering in the South China Sea disputes.

During a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month, Trump had reaffirmed his country's commitment to defend Japan, adding that the alliance also includes the defence of the Senkaku-Diaoyu Islands, a source of tension between Tokyo and Beijing as both consider them to be a part of their territory.