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China urges peaceful development of seas, says conflict leads to 'disaster'

Published on Jun 21, 2014 11:35 AM
A still image taken from video shows a Chinese Coast Guard vessel sailing in the South China Sea, about 210 km off shore of Vietnam on May 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China, involved in a growing dispute with its neighbours over the energy-rich South China Sea, wants to promote peaceful development of the oceans, Premier Li Keqiang said, warning that conflicts in the past had only brought "disaster for humanity".

"China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development and firmly oppose any act of hegemony in maritime affairs," Mr Li said at a maritime summit in Greece on Friday in comments carried by China's Foreign Ministry website on Saturday. "Developing the oceans through cooperation has helped many nations flourish, while resorting to conflict to fight over the sea has only brought disaster for humanity."

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, rejecting rival claims to parts of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei in one of Asia's most intractable disputes and a possible flashpoint. It also has a long-running dispute with Japan in the East China Sea.

Concern over China's motives has risen in the region after China sent four more oil rigs into the South China Sea, less than two months after it positioned a giant drilling platform in waters claimed by Vietnam around the Paracel Islands.

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