China today said the situation in the disputed South China Sea is moving towards “relaxation” and asked the countries outside the area to take note of the “positive progress” amid US prodding India to play a larger role in the Indo-Pacific region. China claims almost all of the South China Sea and also laid claims on the Senkaku islands under the control of Japan in East China Sea and resorted to aggressive patrols in the last two years. The US calls the dominance of China over the SCS a threat to national interest in freedom of navigation. “The situation in the South China Sea (SCS) overall is moving towards relaxation and we are seeing positive momentum of growth,” Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister, Chen Xiaodong told a media briefing here as President Xi Jinping headed to Vietnam to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit there. “We hope that the countries outside the region would look at positive progress in the SCS situation in an objective manner and contribute to peace and stability in the region,” he said.
In the recent years, the US which sided with smaller countries in the region to assert their right over the SCS has been pressing India to play a larger role in the Indo-Pacific area as part of New Delhi’s Act East policy. “We have already made impertinent progress in the SCS which shows countries in the region have the willingness, wisdom and ability to properly handle the SCS issue,” Chen said.
Xi will travel to Vietnam and Laos from November 10 to 14, his first visit abroad after he was re-elected for the second term by a key congress of the ruling Communist Party. He will attend the 25th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, on November 10-11, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said. Xi will also pay state visits to Vietnam and Laos from November 12 to 14, he said.