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FACTDROP: US, China exchange warnings on South China Sea


US, China exchange warnings on South China Sea

Πηγή: Daily News
Nov 17 2011

Indonesia: The United States and China appeared headed Wednesday for a confrontation over the South China Sea at this week’s East Asia Summit, as they traded warnings over the territorial dispute.

China has caused disquiet in Washington and Asian capitals with its broad claims over the South China Sea, which encompasses vital shipping lanes and is believed to sit atop vast oil and mineral reserves.

The US has signalled it will raise the issue at this week’s talks on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, despite Beijing insisting it is not an appropriate topic for discussion.

And US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday on a visit to the Philippines, which along with Vietnam has complained China is becoming more aggressive in staking its claims, that threats were unacceptable.

“Any nation with a claim has a right to exert it, but they do not have a right to pursue it through intimidation or coercion,” she said.

As the United States rolls out a diplomatic campaign to assert itself as a Pacific power, including stationing Marines in Australia, Clinton gave clear backing to the Philippines — a vocal proponent of challenging China on the maritime dispute. “Let me say, the United States will always be in the corner of the Philippines and we will stand and fight with you,” she said.

China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims in the region which is a conduit for more than one-third of the world’s seaborne trade and half its traffic in oil and gas.

The dispute has rumbled on for years but tensions have erupted anew in recent times, with the Philippines and Vietnam saying that Chinese vessels had harassed their ships and cut exploration cables.

Southeast Asian nations appreciate US support, but Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam said they do not want to get “caught between the competing interests” of major powers at the East Asia Summit.

“We just hope that any discussion will be done in a way that... promotes peace and harmony in the region,” he told AFP.

Beijing, which prefers to negotiate individually with its weaker neighbours, on Tuesday said the South China Sea should not be up for discussion in Bali.

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