US admiral urges China on South China Sea disputes
- Article by: VIJAY JOSHI
- Associated Press
- August 29, 2014 - 5:55 AM
HONOLULU — China should act like a regional leader and help resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea without coercion instead of raising tensions, the head of American forces in Asia and the Pacific said Thursday.
Adm. Samuel Locklear said China should reverse recent actions that assert its claim to virtually the entire strategically important region, calling them provocative and disruptive. He urged Beijing to refer its claims instead to international legal forums.
"China Is a regional leader. It is a global leader. They have a responsibility to lead in this dispute . to reach a compromise on these hard issues with their neighbors," Locklear told a group of international journalists.
The group was brought together by the Honolulu-based East-West Center, a non-profit center that focuses on fostering relations between the United States and Asia.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the South China Sea, dotted with tiny islands and home to key shipping lanes, rich fishing grounds and valuable oil and gas deposits. Taiwan shares an overlapping claim with China to the entire area but has taken no steps to assert it.
Locklear cited a series of steps Beijing has taken to sharpen the dispute, including sending an oil rig into waters near Vietnam, the dredging of disputed islands and reefs, new laws governing disputed areas and "their lack of desire to go forward with international law forums."
"If you take a look at the last year, there has been a significant progress by China in changing the status quo in their favor," he said.
While Beijing feels it has a strong historical claim, other parties to the disputes feel equally strongly, Locklear said. China may have convincing arguments to make, but it needs to put those in a modern legal framework, he said.
"What we ask them to do is to be more transparent," Locklear said. "They may have a good argument in their favor but we won't know that until they put it in an international forum."
He said all claimants must avoid provocative actions and then find a mutually agreeable solution.
"They need to look at a win-win solution that can be achieved without coercion," Locklear said.
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