US, China exchange views on South China Sea
BEIJING: The United States and China had a frank exchange of views on the disputed South China Sea during a visit to Beijing by US President Donald Trump yesterday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.
China claims almost the entire strategic waterway through which about US$ 3 trillion worth of goods pass every year, building and militarising artificial islands. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting claims.
We insist on upholding freedom of navigation, that claimants be consistent with international law and that claimants should stop construction and militarisation of outposts in order to maximise prospects for successful diplomacy. Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State
The issue is likely to feature prominently at two regional summits starting this week, one in Vietnam and the other in the Philippines, which Trump and several leaders will attend. Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the Vietnam meeting.
“We had a frank exchange here in China on maritime security issues and the South China Sea. The US position remains unchanged,” Tillerson told reporters.
“We insist on upholding freedom of navigation, that claimants be consistent with international law and that claimants should stop construction and militarisation of outposts in order to maximise prospects for successful diplomacy,” he added.
Both Xi and Trump expressed support for the protection of peace and stability in the South China Sea, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the leaders’ talks. Both leaders also support the peaceful resolution and management of the dispute via talks and in accordance with ‘accepted international law’, it added.
“Both sides support the protection of freedom of navigation and overflight for all countries, in accordance with international law,” it said.
The United States has angered China with freedom of navigation patrols close to Chinese- controlled islands in the South China Sea, which have been continued by the Trump administration. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in an apparent policy shift, said he planned to ask China to make clear its intentions in the South China Sea, during AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation ( Apec) meetings in Vietnam. — Reuters
Xi (front left) and Trump attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. — AFP photo
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US First Lady Melania Trump (right) and China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan (left) are surrounded by students after a cultural performance during a visit to Banchang Primary School in Beijing yesterday. — AFP photo