VIENTIANE, July 23 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said on Saturday that China supports the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in playing a central role in regional cooperation and opposes intervention in regional affairs from outsider countries, especially big powers.
The ASEAN Plus One (with dialogue partners), ASEAN Plus Three (China, South Korea and Japan), East Asia Summit and ASEAN Regional Forum are cooperation mechanisms centered on ASEAN, Liu told Xinhua on the sidelines of the ASEAN Plus Three Senior Officials' Meeting.
"Cooperation in East Asia has greatly improved social and economic development in the region over the past 25 years," he said ahead of an ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting set to open on Sunday.
But maintaining peace, stability and economic growth in the region is facing challenges against the backdrop of globalization.
With an anemic global economy, Asian countries, which have to do business with countries outside the region, will inevitably be affected, Liu said.
Asian nations must be mindful that regional cooperation should not be obstructed by differences between countries in the region.
"They should in particular guard against the intervention in regional cooperation by big powers outside the region," he stressed, warning that it will harm regional solidarity and integration.
The ill-founded award issued by an ad hoc tribunal on July 12 did not give a practical solution to the South China Sea issue, said the senior Chinese diplomat, adding that both the Philippines and China still need negotiations and communications to resolve their maritime disputes.
China has dismissed the biased ruling as "null and void with no binding force."
Liu hoped that ASEAN nations and China could jointly implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea adopted in 2002, and not let the South China Sea arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines impact their ties.
He also urged the upcoming foreign ministers' meeting to focus on regional cooperation instead of instigating differences between countries.
"It is normal that differences exist between countries. China has been seeking to solve differences and disputes with other countries through negotiations over the past six decades," he said.