World

China Seeks US Support for Talks with Philippines

Map of South China Sea. Credits: natural flow/flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Map of South China Sea. Credits: natural flow/flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Beijing/Vientiane: China’s foreign minister has asked US secretary of state John Kerry to support the resumption of talks between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea, following a ruling against Beijing over the dispute earlier this month.

China did not participate in and has refused to accept the July 12 ruling by the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration, in which US ally Manila won an emphatic legal victory.

Meeting in the Laos capital Vientiane on Monday during a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told Kerry that China and ASEAN had agreed the dispute should get back onto the “correct” track of being resolved by direct talks with the parties concerned.

China “hopes the United States side takes actual steps to support the resumption of talks between China and the Philippines, and support the efforts of China and ASEAN to maintain regional peace and stability”, Wang said, according to a foreign ministry statement released on Tuesday.

China has repeatedly blamed the US for stoking tensions in the South China Sea and of taking sides in the dispute, accusations Washington denies.

Competing claims with China in the vital shipping lane and resource-rich sea are among the most contentious issues for the ten members of ASEAN, who are pulled between their desire to assert their sovereignty while fostering ties with an increasingly assertive Beijing.

Speaking to reporters in Vientiane, Philippines foreign minister Perfecto Yasay said the dispute was not a fight between China and the US but between China and the Philippines.

“We would like to pursue bilateral relationships in so far as the peaceful resolution of the dispute is concerned that is between the China and the Philippines. The others are not concerned with that dispute,” Yasay told reporters.

China has also accused Japan of interfering in the dispute.

China’s foreign ministry said Wang again urged Tokyo not to intervene in the South China Sea, saying Japan was not a claimant in the disputes and should avoid interfering in up the maritime spats.

“The China-Japan relations are still vulnerable and unsatisfactory,” Wang told Fumio Kishida, Japan’s minister for foreign affairs.

Japan and allies Australia and the US issued a joint statement voicing their “strong opposition to any coercive unilateral actions” in the South China Sea and calling on both the Philippines and China to abide by the legally binding ruling.

China scored a diplomatic victory on Monday as Southeast Asian nations dropped any reference to the court ruling in a joint statement in the face of resolute objections from Cambodia, China’s closest ASEAN ally.

(Reuters)