US avoiding confrontation in sea dispute, says Kerry
UNITED States Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday Washington wanted to avoid “confrontation” in the South China Sea, after an international tribunal rejected Beijing’s claims to most of the waters.
Mr Kerry made the remarks after meeting with Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay in Manila where they discussed the Southeast Asian nation’s sweeping victory in the arbitration case against China.
The US’s top diplomat said the United States wanted China and the Philippines to engage in talks and “confidence-building measures”.
“The decision itself is a binding decision but we’re not trying to create a confrontation. We are trying to create a solution mindful of the rights of people established under the law,” Mr Kerry said.
A tribunal based in The Hague this month ruled that China’s claim to most of the strategic waterway was inconsistent with international law. The decision angered Beijing, which vowed to ignore the ruling.
But Mr Kerry said the US saw an “opportunity” for claimants to peacefully resolve the row.
“We hope to see a process that will narrow the geographic scope of the maritime disputes, set standards for behaviour in contested areas, lead to mutually acceptable solutions, perhaps even a series of confidencebuilding steps,” he said.
Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to the South China Sea, a vital waterway through which US$5 trillion in annual trade passes. It is believed to sit on vast oil and gas reserves.
Mr Kerry, who arrived in Manila on July 26 after attending a regional summit in Laos, met with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte after Mr Yasay. –
John Kerry says China and the Philippines should engage in talks on the disputed South China Sea.