Xi urges 'political solutions' to conflicts in talks with Ban

In run-up to regional security forum, president says using 'external force' to resolve global disputes will only lead to new problems

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2014, 4:30am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2014, 6:27am

President Xi Jinping yesterday called for political solutions to global conflicts as he met the UN chief ahead of a regional summit in Shanghai.

Using "external force" to resolve disputes would only lead to new problems, Xi told United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"Display of power and … the use of external force are not acceptable," Xi was quoted by Xinhua as saying. Such an approach results in "tackling one problem only to find another emerging".

The international community should pursue political solutions to conflicts, and the UN should "uphold the banner" of that approach, Xi said.

The two-day security forum, which begins today, comes amid heightened tensions in the region. China is locked in sovereignty disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines over the South China Sea.

A wave of anti-China protests in Vietnam have led Beijing to suspend some bilateral exchanges with Hanoi. High-level contact between Beijing and Tokyo has also been suspended due to territorial disputes in the East China Sea and China's objections to Japan's stance towards its wartime history.

Beijing is believed to be concerned the disputes will lead its neighbours to further embrace the US "pivot" to the region.

Beijing has also tried to ensure multilateral platforms, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), are not turned against China. Asean secretary general Le Luong Minh, who is Vietnamese, said last week China's establishment of an oil rig near the disputed Paracel Islands violated Vietnam's territorial integrity.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei yesterday called on Asean to remain neutral. "[Minh] has taken sides to advocate a certain country's claims, sending out wrong signals, regardless of facts or the Asean position," Hong told a daily press briefing. The dispute was not a matter between China and Asean, Hong said.

Su Hao, a professor with China Foreign Affairs University, said Xi's remarks were "targeted at the recent rows between Beijing and its neighbours".

"The territorial conflicts have been going on for decades, but they have escalated to a level that affects the exchanges and cooperation between China and its neighbours," Su said. "In recent years, China has wanted to keep US ties stable. But now it wants to openly express its stance, as it feels that US involvement has pushed some nations to confront China."

Shi Yinhong, an international affairs expert at Beijing's Renmin University, said Xi was laying out broad principles for resolving conflicts, such as in Ukraine.

"The principle can be applied to resolving conflicts in Crimea," Shi said. "China has also said external forces should not intervene when dealing with the problem in Ukraine, and has called for dialogue between the parties involved."