Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) meets with his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull in Vientiane, Laos, Sept. 8, 2016. (Xinhua/Wang Ye)
VIENTIANE, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Thursday called on Australia to support China's efforts to expand consensus and resolve differences with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the South China Sea issue.
Li made the remarks while meeting with his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull on the sidelines of the East Asia leaders' meetings in the Laotian capital of Vientiane.
Noting that the situation in the South China Sea is moving in a positive direction, Li said that the accomplishments China has achieved with ASEAN nations at Wednesday's meeting are conducive to managing their differences and maintaining peace and stability of the region.
The premier voiced hope that that Australia can play a constructive role in promoting regional unity, cooperation, peace and stability so as to turn the South China Sea into a sea of peace and cooperation.
Turnbull said Australia welcomes the progress China and ASEAN have made in their dialogue and consultations on the South China Sea issue.
Australia is not a claimant to the South China Sea disputes, and will not take sides on related issues, he said.
Turnbull said he hopes relevant parties can reach a code of conduct on South China Sea at an early date, resolve their disputes in a peaceful way and preserve peace and stability in the region.
Also in their talks, Li noted that the world is seeing a slack economic recovery, as well as the emergence of anti-globalization sentiments and trade protectionism.
China and Australia should strengthen mutual trust, boost cooperation, jointly oppose protectionism and foster new economy, new industries and new patterns, he said.
He called on both sides to tap the potential of such areas as innovation and investment, and work together to shape a fairer and more friendly business environment.
For his part, Turnbull said Australia welcomes more Chinese firms to invest in the country, and urged the Chinese investors to strengthen cooperation in innovation, and expand bilateral economic relations so as to facilitate even greater development of China-Australia ties.