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South China Sea issue dominates discussion at Shangri-La Dialogue

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by June 6, 2016 General

Full coverage: South China Sea Is Indisputable Part of China

This year’s Shangri-La Dialogue has wrapped up in Singapore. On the final day of the summit, China maintained that it will resolutely defend its sovereignty in the South China Sea dispute, but called on all parties directly involved to handle differences appropriately.

Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of China

Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of China’s Central Military Commission, delivers a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 5, 2016. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey)

On the last day of the Shangri-La Dialogue, Chinese admiral Sun Jianguo takes the centre stage explaining China’s military role and security policy and addressing concerns of the South China Sea.

“The Chinese military while resolutely defending sovereignty, security and development interests of the nation, has committed to properly handle the differences, jointly controlling risks and peacefully settling disputes with countries concerned,” Sun said.

The South China Sea issue has dominated this year’s dialogue. During the Q&A session, Admiral Sun has to address most of the questions and the majority of them are regarding the South China Sea. But he doesn’t seem to mind at all, even asking for more stage time.

“You only give me one minute. I can answer more questions as long as you give me time.”

Professor Jia Qingguo is an expert on China’s foreign policies and Sino-U.S. relations. He thinks countries should pay more attention to commonalities rather than differences when handling international affairs.

“I think the U.S. side has exaggerated the differences between China and the U.S. over the South China Sea, actually there are a lot of commonalities as well between us. For example both countries respect the principle of freedom of navigation in the high seas, they have different interpretation on some aspects, but basically they support the same principle. Both are supporting peace and stability in the region and both are making efforts,” Jia Qingguo with Peking University said.

That’s a wrap of the 15th Asia Security Summit. According to the organizer IISS, this year’s edition is attended by 602 delegates, but if you add support staff, observers and media, that number goes up to 2079. It is difficult to measure success for such kind of dialogue, but it’s fair to say that the summit has provided a good platform for communication between the delegates and different delegations.

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