Updated 8:47 AM EST, Fri, Mar 05, 2021

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Premier Li Unveils China's Policy on the South China Sea

(Photo : USC US-China Institute)

China will support initiatives that will strengthen maritime cooperation in the South China Sea but will resist any provocation that destabilizes peace in the contested waters.

This was the gist of China's position on how to resolve the escalating tension ensuing from overlapping claims on islets and resources in the whole South China Sea.

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Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang unveiled China's policy Thursday before delegates of this year's Boao Forum for Asia in Hunan province.

Li said it is a Chinese practice to repay kindness with kindness but will also meet any wrongdoing with justice.

The Premier adds that China values friendship and will never treat friends unfairly.

He adds that China "stands by principles and firmly upholds our fundamental position."

He told attendees to the Boao Forum, which included high level delegates from countries with territorial claims in the South China Sea, that China is ready for consultations.

Beijing is committed to advance consultations on the enactment of a code of conduct in the area well within the framework of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

Li adds that his country is more than willing to work closely with other countries to guarantee the stability of the region as well as ensure freedom of navigation.

He repeated China's long standing position of actively exploring the establishment of a framework on regional security cooperation.

Among those in attendance are former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos.

The areas of cooperation China wants to explore include security dialogue, non-traditional concerns like disaster management, counter-terrorism, combating transnational crimes, and maritime search and rescue.

The toned-down and non-combative statement comes after the visit by US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who reiterated the White House position to defend allies if China escalates the tension.

In 2010, China unveiled its historically-based claims to nearly the whole South China Sea by releasing an updated map called the nine-dash line.

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