China to stay on path of ‘peaceful devt’ & continue to be ‘positive force’: Premier Li

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BEIJING, March 15 (AGENCIES): China will stay on the path of “peaceful development” and continue to be a “positive force” and contribute for regional and global peace, Premier Li Keqiang said here on Friday, amidst global concern over Beijing flexing its muscles in the region.

Li, who addressed over two-and-a-half-hour press conference at the end of the Chinese legislature the National People’s Congress, mostly answered selected questions on China’s economy and internal social issues as well as ties with the US, Russia and the EU. However in his closing remarks, he said that China will continue to follow the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness in developing relations with its neighbours.

“China will stay on the path of peaceful development and continue to be a positive force and contributor for regional and global peace,” he said.

China asserts nearly all of the resource-rich South China Sea as its territory, while Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam have counter claims over the area. The US has been conducting regular patrols in the South China Sea to assert the freedom of navigation in the area where Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region.

When asked about China’s priority regarding the conclusion of the China-Japan-South Korea Free Trade Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Li said it will depend on the efforts made by parties concerned.

“Whichever will be concluded first, China will take a welcome attitude to the development,” Li added.

Though he did not comment on the current situation in South Asia, Foreign Minister Wang Yi in his annual press conference last week said that India and Pakistan should quickly turn the page after the Pulwama terror attack, meet each other halfway and transform the present crisis into an opportunity for a long term and fundamental improvement in their bilateral relations.

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