US, China embroiled in tussle over South China Sea claims
The US says that it is not competing with China for influence and leadership in Southeast Asia, even as the two countries made it evident at a weekend meeting of regional foreign ministers in Burma.
According to the Washington Post, China rebuffed a US-backed proposal for a freeze on "provocative acts" in disputed waters of the South China Sea, but US officials still claimed victory in nudging Southeast Asian nations to take a firmer public stand against assertive Chinese behavior.
The US accused China of taking similar "provocative" actions in territorial disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam and others in the South China Sea and in the dispute with Japan in the East China Sea, the report said.
Interacting with media persons, Secretary of State John Kerry said there was an extensive discussion on multiple occasions about the South China Sea, adding that this was why the US was encouraging claimant states to consider voluntarily agreeing to refrain from taking certain actions.
The US called for a united front with China's Southeast Asian neighbors to put pressure on China to negotiate a "code of conduct" for the waters.
The "freeze" idea, with strong backing from the US, was reportedly put forth by the Philippines.
Deeming the proposal as premature, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi rejected Kerry's call for adjudication based on international law.
Wang said that as a responsible great power, China is ready to maintain restraint.
However, he asserted that for unreasonable provocative activities, China was bound to make a clear and firm reaction.
(Posted on 11-08-2014)