President Xi Jinping has said China will increase its capabilities to protect its maritime rights while seeking common interests with its neighbours.
The remark was made at a Politburo study session about how to turn China into a maritime power on Tuesday, Xinhua reported yesterday.
The choice of topics for the study sessions for the top 25 members of the party usually aims to highlight the priorities of the party leadership, or send a political message.
During the session, Xi said that in "no way will the country abandon its legitimate rights and interests, nor will it give up its core national interests".
But he also pledged to use peaceful means and negotiations to settle disputes and strive to safeguard peace and stability, Xinhua said.
It said the country would adhere to the policy of "shelving disputes and carrying out joint development for areas over which China has sovereign rights", while also seeking common interests with other countries.
China is engaged in territory disputes with its neighbours in the oil-rich South China Sea and the East China Sea.
Xi said China would give more support to exploring ocean resources and use the contributions to the economy to turn the nation into a maritime power.
Gao Shu, a professor with Nanjing University's School of Geography and Oceanographic Sciences, said achieving Xi's vision would require developing resources not only in China's coastal areas but also in oceans around the globe. "The marine economy accounts for a lower percentage of GDP in China than it does in other countries, and a growing marine economy will contribute to the growth of the national economy," Gao said.
China announced its aspiration to become a maritime power during the 18th party congress last November.