Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Monday that although China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations frequently have different views on South China Sea issues, they will maintain peace and stability in the region.
Li's remarks following his meeting with Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in Bogor came just days after a news report that China has installed missiles on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs, three of the seven features in the disputed sea that China reclaimed and later fortified with apparent military structures.
"Despite our differences in views, we shall maintain stability in the South China Sea," Li told reporters after the meeting. "Together, we shall safeguard peace, stability and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea," he added, but did not elaborate.
Jokowi, speaking alongside Li after their talks, did not mention the South China Sea, only saying that over the 50 years since its creation, ASEAN contributed a lot to "creating stability in the region," and that "we will maintain and even improve the achievement."
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, China and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, an area rich in marine resources and potentially oil and natural gas.