Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks during the virtual the 24th ASEAN Plus China, Japan, ROK Summit on October 27, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]
Efforts from regional countries to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea must be respected, Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday.
In a speech made via video link at the 16th East Asian Summit, Li urged various sides to support countries in the region in developing the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.
Safeguarding the peace and stability of South China Sea and ensuring the freedom of navigation and overflight serves the common interests of different sides, he said.
The peace and stability of the South China Sea concerns China's vital interests, as China ― the world's largest trader in cargo ― now sees more than 60 percent of its trade in goods going through the region, he said.
Thanks to the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea has maintained overall stability and there has never been a problem with the freedom of navigation and overflight, Li said.
He said that China is committed to the path of peaceful development, and the country along with ASEAN members have agreed to reach early conclusion of an effective, substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea consistent with international law including United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.