Wen calls for bilateral solution to regional disputes such as Spratlys
Premier Wen Jiabao has reiterated China's preference for maritime disputes to be resolved bilaterally rather than multilaterally ahead of a four-day trip to Malaysia and Indonesia beginning today.
'We disapprove of referring bilateral disputes to multilateral forums because it will only make the disputes bigger and more complicated,' Wen said in an interview with Malaysian and Indonesian journalists, the Malaysian news agency Bernama reported.
Competing territorial claims over the South China Sea emerged as a major source of tension between China and the Asean countries last year, particularly in light of the United States' determination to shore up its influence in the region.
Malaysia, along with three other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - the Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam - contests Beijing's and Taipei's claims to the Spratly and Paracel island groups.
While some countries have called for the South China Sea problem to be resolved through the platform of Asean, China is fixed on bilateral negotiations.