China's Xi issues veiled warning to Asia over military alliances

SHANGHAI Wed May 21, 2014 6:48am EDT

1 of 3. Chinese President Xi Jinping gives a speech during a gala dinner ahead of the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit, in Shanghai May 20, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Aly Song

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping appeared to warn some Asian nations on Wednesday about strengthening military alliances to counter China, saying this would not benefit regional security.

But he also pledged to peacefully resolve China's disputes over territory, which have intensified in recent years, especially in the South and East China Seas.

"To beef up military alliances targeted at a third party is not conducive to maintaining common security in the region," Xi said in a speech, following a period when some Asian countries have sought to reaffirm their security ties with Washington.

During a visit to Asia last month, U.S. President Barack Obama also sought to reassure allies such as Japan and the Philippines that his long-promised strategic shift towards Asia and the Pacific, widely seen as aimed at countering China's rising influence, was real.

Xi made his remarks at a regional conference in Shanghai in front of Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan, as well as representatives from the Philippines, Japan and more than 40 other countries and organizations.

He did not mention the United States.

China is embroiled in bitter disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines over maritime boundaries in the South China Sea. Beijing and Tokyo are also at loggerheads over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Anti-Chinese violence flared in Vietnam last week after Chinese state oil company CNOOC deployed an oil rig 240 km (150 miles) off the coast of Vietnam in waters also claimed by Hanoi. The rig was towed there just days after Obama left the region.

The move was the latest in a series of confrontations between China and some of its neighbors over the potentially oil-and-gas rich South China Sea. Washington has responded with sharpened rhetoric toward Beijing, describing a pattern of "provocative" actions by China.

Xi sought to play down concerns about China's intentions.

"China stays committed to seeking peaceful settlement of disputes with other countries over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests," he said.

His speech was given at a meeting of the little-known Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, or CICA.

China has seized upon its hosting of the forum, launched by Kazakhstan in the early 1990s, to try to build clout in the region and beyond. Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran both attended.

State broadcaster China Central Television aired live the arrival of various leaders for the meeting, but underscoring the sensitivity of China's territorial disputes it cut away from images of Xi shaking hands with the representatives from Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan.

Xi said a zero-sum, "Cold War" concept of security where one country gains at the expense of others would not work.

"We cannot just have the security of one or some countries while leaving the rest insecure," Xi said, adding that one should not "seek the so-called absolute security of itself at the expense of the security of others".

"No country should attempt to dominate regional security affairs," he said.

Metallurgical Corp of China Ltd (MCC) said on Wednesday that four of its employees working on a construction project in Vietnam were killed and 126 injured during the anti-China protests last week.

The Chinese and Vietnamese governments had put the death toll at two with 100 or more injured.

(Editing by Dean Yates)

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Comments (26)
Kahnie wrote:
“This is my last territorial demand. I want no Vietnamese or Filipinos. I just want all their resources.” Some jackass in 1938 said the same about a country in central Europe.

May 20, 2014 11:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
StephanLarose wrote:
They would like to peacefully retain all maritime territory they’ve seized from all their much smaller, much weaker neighbors, and China holds that all their neighbors should maintain a policy of not unifying in response to the territorial seizures so as to remain weak, easy to divide and manipulate. Thanks!

May 20, 2014 12:47am EDT  --  Report as abuse
CountryPride wrote:
They claim they want a peaceful resolve but ram an oil rig in disputed waters with a small army of Navy ships to accompany it. Then they wonder why that move prompted Chinese in Vietnam to get beat and killed?

May 21, 2014 1:14am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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