US, China exchange views on South China Sea

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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

Anti-riot po­lice­men blocked mem­bers of the Gabriela (Women’s Group) who de­nounce the planned visit of Trump to at­tend the 31st As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (Asean) lead­ers sum­mit dur­ing a protest out­side the US em­bassy in metro Manila, Philip­pines. — Reuters photo

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

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