China won’t seek dominance over Southeast Asia or bully smaller countries

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Speaking in Indonesia, Xi Jinping says China has good reason to act rationally and will not press its case by force

China won’t seek dominance over Southeast Asia or bully smaller countries

China will not pursue a unilateral military strategy in its “win-win” cooperation with other countries in the South China Sea or bully smaller countries, Xi Jinping has said in Indonesia.

China has been accused of using force and bullying smaller countries, such as the Philippines, to support its claims to disputed territory, while rival claimants have accused Beijing of also polluting the region.

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“China has no intention to try to dominate and impose its will on other countries,” Xi said at a gathering of top officials and business leaders at a luxury hotel in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

“For more than 70 years, China has pursued a strategy of win-win cooperation with other countries based on mutual benefits,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

“China believes that a more practical strategy of win-win cooperation can win the attention of other countries. We have a good reason to act rationally,” Xi said.

China says its territorial claims in the South China Sea are within its waters and China is entitled to deploy naval vessels to such waters as part of freedom of navigation operations.

It has also taken a leading role in discussions among China, the United States, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan over the disputed waters.

The disputed waters, which encompass an estimated $5tn (£3.69tn) in ship-borne trade, have long been viewed as a potential flashpoint, pitting China’s military might against an increasingly powerful and unstable US military.

The summit was an annual forum on governance, security and development.

Earlier on Tuesday, officials, including an Australian official, said high-level talks on security would take place on Tuesday, with China providing a diplomatic push to contain the steady US military buildup in the region.

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China had not yet formally confirmed the venue for the talks on Tuesday, with Malaysia sending a delegation to Jakarta for the preparatory talks.

Separately, Xi said China would continue to invest in infrastructure and help Indonesia build a free trade area with Asean nations, to push efforts to boost regional integration.

Indonesia is still negotiating the details of the agreement with fellow 10-member Asean, which its top trade official said last week remained on course to be in place by December.

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