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Chen said that the Philippines

The visit of the Lao president to China ahead of a UN arbitration ruling on the South China Sea is a good opportunity to downplay its possible negative impact on China-ASEAN relations and help China earn the support of other ASEAN members [url=]Antonio Callaway Browns Jersey[/url] , analysts said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party and President Bounnhang Vorachith on Tuesday, and the two countries vowed to further pursue the China-Laos comprehensive strategic partnership.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) holds talks with Lao President Bounnhang Vorachit in Beijing, capital of China, May 3 [url=]Chad Thomas Browns Jersey[/url] , 2016.(XinhuaPang Xinglei) Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) holds a welcoming ceremony for Lao President Bounnhang Vorachit before their talks in Beijing, capital of China, May 3, 2016.(XinhuaPang Xinglei) Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) holds a welcoming ceremony for Lao President Bounnhang Vorachit before their talks in Beijing, capital of China [url=]Duke Johnson Jr Jersey[/url] , May 3, 2016.(XinhuaXie Huanchi)

President Xi said China will deepen cooperation in international affairs with Laos and is willing to support Laos' ASEAN chairmanship this year. Xi also said that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the China-ASEAN Dialogue Partnership, and China resolutely supports ASEAN integration.

The International Court of Arbitration at The Hague is expected to decide on the case filed by the Philippines in May or June.

As this year's ASEAN summit chair, Laos plays an important part in coordinating forums and would help convince the group not to issue statements against China on the South China Sea issue, said Zhuang Guotu [url=]Nate Orchard Jersey[/url] , head of the Center of Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University.

Zhuang said since many economic projects between China and other ASEAN members involve Laos, the country could also help clear up misunderstandings between China and claimants countries and reduce tensions in the region.

Three of the 10-member ASEAN - Laos, Brunei and Cambodia - have voiced their support for China's position in settling disputes in the South China Sea through negotiations and agreements between the affected parties.

The three countries forged a "four-point consensus" on the issue during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visits.

Vorachith's visit to Beijing comes on the heels of last week's visit to Hanoi, where he met with the General Secretary of Vietnam's Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang.

Vietnam is also a claimant country in the South China Sea disputes.

"Laos tries to seek balance between China and Vietnam on the South China Sea issue. In pursuit of its national interests, Laos will try to maintain a balance [url=]Antonio Callaway Jersey[/url] , although Laos and Vietnam share a close bond," Gu Xiaosong, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

ASEAN's view on disputes

"It is indisputable that China would launch a diplomatic campaign to rally support and understanding from the international community since the international court will likely rule against China," Gu said

Two senior Singaporean diplomats in Jakarta criticized China's diplomatic moves as tantamount to "meddling" in ASEAN's internal affairs [url=]Chad Thomas Jersey[/url] , and "can be seen as a means to divide ASEAN ahead of an international ruling," the Straits Times reported on April 28.

"China should not be blamed for splitting ASEAN since its members inherently dissent on the South China Sea issue. Except for the Philippines and Vietnam, the most forward-leaning claimants, most members of ASEAN are inclined to resolve disputes through negotiations and cooperation," Chen Xiangmiao [url=]Shon Coleman Browns Jersey[/url] , a research fellow at the National Institute for the South China Sea, told the Global Times.

Chen said that the Philippines attempted to raise the South China Sea issue at ASEAN summits in a bid to contain China, but the efforts were in vain since some ASEAN members are aware that it would jeopardize China-ASEAN relations and threaten regional development.

Chen said that if the South China Sea situation deteriorates, it would undermine China- ASEAN relations in the long run, especially the well-established economic and trade cooperation.

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