U.S. WARNS OF MORE CLASHES ON SOUTH CHINA SEA ROW

[PHOTO -
Hillary Clinton file photo by Harald Dettenborn, 47th Munich Security Conference 2011. South East Asia map background by Juan Paolo Magtira for Manila Standard Today. Clinton twits China for insisting on bilateral talks. "Asian countries should work collaboratively and diplomatically to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation, without threats and without the use of force.”

MANILA, JULY 16, 2012 (STANDARD) By Associated Press - The United States on Thursday warned of more confrontations in the South China Sea if a region-wide solution was not found as Beijing continued to rebuff calls to cooperate with Association of South East Asian Nations on an acceptable and legally-binding code for operating in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

US Secretary Hillary Clinton, speaking before the Asean foreign ministers in the US-Asean grouping she co-led with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, said “Asian countries should work collaboratively and diplomatically to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation, without threats and without the use of force.”

The whole region must be involved in resolving conflicts in the South China Sea since “approaching them bilaterally could be a recipe for confusion and even confrontation,” Clinton said.

An emerging focal point in the now shaky US-China relations was China’s latest conflict with Japan, a staunch US ally, over a string of remote islands claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing.

The sudden flare-up of new tensions was sparked by Chinese patrol boats approaching the islands, which the Chinese claim as theirs. Japan’s foreign ministry has summoned the Chinese ambassador to lodge a protest after it found out about the patrols.

The conflict threatens to overshadow the issue on the South China Sea in the ongoing 45th Asean foreign ministers’ meeting in Cambodia, where the participants are trying to come out with an acceptable code of conduct that they intend to discuss with China.

Beijing has said it will start talks on a legally binding code of conduct in the South China Sea “when the conditions are ripe,” but insists it will try to resolve the issue through bilateral talks with concerned nations.

Clinton has tried to ease the tension by downplaying the US’ role in the region, saying that it does not take sides in the conflict.

Clinton met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on the sidelines of the foreign ministers’ meeting. The one-on-one meeting tiptoed around the contentious issue and instead focused on “building an even closer US-China relationship,” according to an AP report.

Clinton urged the Asean ministers to “clearly outline their position in the Scarborough Shoal” before it affects everyone and not just those currently involved.”

She was referring to the standoff at the Shoal between Manila and Beijing which started in April, and the statement is seen by analysts as the US’ way of calming Manila’s nerves but could further provoke Beijing to take an even harder stance.

Meanwhile, Senator Miriam Santiago warned that engaging China in an arms race would be futile because the Philippines could not outfight China. With Bloomberg, Sara Susanne Fabunan and Macon Ramos-Araneta


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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