BEIJING, Oct. 11 -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's call for properly handling the South China Sea issue during a series meetings of East Asian leaders has resonated widely in the region.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak commended China for its commitment to resolve the disputes through peaceful negotiation.
"With China's commitment, the claimant states should now be committed to resolving matters peacefully through negotiations," he told Malaysian reporters during this week's East Asian meetings in the Bruneian capital of Bandar Seri Begawan.
Najib also said Malaysia is open to China's suggestion to jointly develop the area pending a final settlement.
"We are prepared to pursue this with China but what is more important now is that no one should use force or threat over the South China Sea," said the prime minister.
Bruneian Sultan Hassanai Bolkiah said his country, which is one claimant in the South China Sea disputes, agrees with China to stay committed to seeking peaceful settlement via dialogue and consultation and preventing the issue from undermining the China-ASEAN friendship and cooperation.
In a commentary issued on Thursday, the English-language Brunei Times said Li's "lighthearted" speech brought "warmth and heartfelt camaraderie to ASEAN countries" from across the disputed South China Sea.
It noted that the Chinese premier envisions the South China Sea to be a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation that will help propel the region's economy to the next level.
Li had also assured ASEAN countries that China is ready to continue to work with other countries in the region to uphold freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea, it added.
Singapore's largest Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao cited Li's metaphor on the importance of cooperation.
People in many East Asian countries use chopsticks, "he whoever has had experience with chopsticks understands that one single chopstick won't do the work of putting food in the mouth," Li said.
"To do the work, a pair of chopsticks are needed. And when a bunch of chopsticks are tied together, they won't break easily," Li said.
The commentary said Li's illustration stresses the urgency of all participating states at the forum, which share responsibility for regional security and stability, to unite for maintaining peace in the region.
Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was quoted by the Vietnam News Agency on Thursday as saying that he believes with strong political will and past successes, the ASEAN-China strategic partnership will develop in both width and depth, contributing to peace, stability and common development in the region.