Asia

UN's Ban tells China civil society, free media are crucial

  • U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a joint press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, July 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a joint press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, July 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, left, shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, July 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)

    U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, left, shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, July 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, speaks during a joint press conference with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, July 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

    Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, speaks during a joint press conference with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, July 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)  (The Associated Press)

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says a flourishing civil society and free media are key to China's development.

On one of his last visits to Beijing as U.N. leader, Ban also said he stressed to Foreign Minister Wang Yi that all countries with rival claims to the South China Sea should settle their differences peacefully.

An international arbitration panel is expected to rule next week on the validity of China's claim to virtually all of the sea, in a case brought by the Philippines.

Wang told a joint news conference with Ban on Thursday that China also wants a "peaceful resolution," but the arbitration ruling would "only escalate the disputes and tensions."

Ban said he encouraged China's leaders to allow civil society "to play its crucial role."