China media: Asean summit and the South China Sea

An official adjusts Chinese flags before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrives for the 21st Asean and East Asia summits in Phnom Penh, 18 Nov 2012 Wen Jiabao is expected to meet Barack Obama during the Asean summit

Monday's newspapers look at the South China Sea dispute and its potential impact on the Asean summit that is taking place in Phnom Penh.

China Daily and the Global Times report Premier Wen Jiabao and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen agreed the territorial dispute should not be a "stumbling block" for China's relations with Asean.

China is embroiled in multiple disputes with regional neighbours over the South China Sea. The last Asean meeting ended without a joint communiqué being signed, amid divisions over the row and claims China had pressured Cambodia to keep the subject off the agenda.

Hong Kong's pro-Beijing Wen Wei Po, citing academics, says it is China's intention to focus this Asean summit on regional growth, rather than the South China Sea dispute.

Mr Wen's meeting with Hun Sen came ahead of the arrival of US President Barack Obama, who is stopping over in Burma for a landmark visit.

The Global Times' bilingual editorial says: "Realistically speaking, it's impossible for Asean countries to unitedly confront China. China is the biggest trading partner with Asean. Co-operating with China is more urgent than guarding against any 'China threat', as there are more practical national interests attached to the former."

"[Mr] Obama's tour seemingly has a menacing manner, but it cannot change the reality that South East Asia is economically tied to China."

China Daily's editorial says: "For a complicated issue like the South China Sea, it is common sense that consensus should be reached before claimant parties sit down at the negotiating table to draw up the code of conduct, and that requires time and patience."

"And as the disputes are only between a few Asean members and China, China is fully justified in insisting on the issue being solved within the China-Asean framework."

Also on Monday, People's Daily and many newspapers directly controlled by local party committees report on the front page that Vice-President Xi Jinping chaired his first "learning session" as Communist Party's general secretary on how to implement "the spirit of the 18th party congress".

A front-page commentary in the People's Daily Overseas Edition praised Mr Xi's address to the press on 15 November, and said the party, the state and the people should remain confident.

Newspapers also comment on the death of five children in Guizhou. State media said they might have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Beijing Times editorial says the deaths were the result of negligence by families, society and the authorities. A Beijing News commentary asks if someone should be held accountable for them.

The Global Times and People's Daily report the cabinet is to scrap a 1951 law that forced railway passengers to pay for their own insurance, while capping compensation to railway accident victims at 150,000 yuan ($24,100; £15,100) each. The amendment will take effect on 1 January 2013.

The cabinet said it scrapped the regulation since it ran contradictory to the insurance law, which bans forced insurance, reports say.

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