USA tries to defuse South China Sea strife with subtle diplomacy


USA tries to defuse South China Sea strife with subtle diplomacy

"We hope that other countries don't use this opportunity to threaten China, and hope that other countries can work hard with China, meet us halfway, and maintain the South China Sea's peace and stability and not turn the South China Sea in a source of war".

After an global tribunal invalidated Beijing's claims to the South China Sea, Chinese authorities have declared in no uncertain terms that they will be ignoring the ruling.

The arbitral court has concluded that "there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights" within the sea areas falling within China's "nine-dash line".

The United Nations said on Wednesday it has nothing to do with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which set up a tribunal that handled the South China Sea arbitration case the Philippines filed unilaterally in 2013.

Liu told reporters that Beijing is considering establishing an ADIZ over the region it claims, which would require all aircraft entering the zone to identify itself to Beijing before passing through.

Ignoring the ruling would only highlight China's lawless conduct in disregarding maritime order based on the rule of law.

While blaming the previous Philippine government for complicating the dispute by seeking arbitration, Mr Liu also sought to strike a conciliatory note with the South East Asian nation's new leadership. Beijing's territorial claims to the islands partly overlap those of the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, while Beijing also has ongoing territorial disputes in the area with Malaysia and Brunei. Mr. Duterte has said he wants to improve relations with China - which soured under previous President Benigno Aquino because of the application to the tribunal - and would seek Chinese investment in the Philippines.

The 10-member Asean bloc has yet to issue a statement on the ruling, although individual member states have already done so. The US, on the other hand, can respond to China's belligerence with trade sanctions and even egg on the Philippines to take the matter to the International Court of Justice.

In 2014, China launched massive island-building efforts in the Nansha - or Spratly - Islands, buttressing claims to the territory.

The United States, meanwhile, has said the ruling by the tribunal is final and legally binding on both China and the Philippines, and it urged them to meet that obligation.

This is a blow to Taiwan, which has occupied the island since the 1950s and has 200 Coast Guard personnel and researchers living on it. Taiping, also known as Itu Aba, is now entitled to only a 12-nautical-mile territorial sea.

"China's handling of the South China Sea has been an eye-opener for the entire region".

China had said on Monday that the maritime dispute should not be included on the ASEM agenda, with assistant foreign minister Kong Xuanyou insisting the meeting was "not an appropriate venue" to discuss the issue.

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