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emfizz.com November 21, 2017


Trumps offers to mediate in protracted South China Sea feud

13 November 2017, 12:49 | Terri Saunders

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"The two sides returned to the track of appropriately handling the South China Sea issue through dialogue and consultation, thus removing the stumbling block that has held back our bilateral relations for several years", Li said.

Whilst in Vietnam, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping also discussed the South China Sea issue with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, which has claims in the region.

Following the conclusion of the APEC meetings, many attendees will next head to Manila, where a meeting of members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will commence.

The US President, who expressed his great friendship with Chinese president Xi Jinping in the early stage of his Asia tour, acknowledged in Vietnam that China's position on the South China Sea, almost all of which is claimed by Beijing, was a problem.

Ahead of the annual summit of the ASEAN, an influential grouping of 10 South East Asian countries, a number of diplomats said the thorny issue of China's aggressive military buildup in the South China Sea may be one of the focus areas of the deliberations on Tuesday. Non-claimants to the issue, such as the USA, stress the necessity for freedom of navigation in the area. "They will not talk about it", Duterte said of China. He added that the two need to "jointly uphold peace and stability" in the region.

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Senior White House officials have said Mr Trump will reassure Asean that the U.S. has not forgotten South-east Asia, even as he pursues an "America First" policy that has allowed China to broaden its influence in the region.

Tensions in the contested waters have ratcheted up since 2014 as China has turned sandbars into islands, equipping them with airfields, ports and weapons systems and warned USA warships and aircraft to stay away from them.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims in the sea, and the dispute has always been seen as a potential trigger for conflict in Asia.

In addition to claiming the vast majority of the 1.4 million square miles (3.5 million square kilometers) of sea - China has built-up small islands in the sea and outfitted them with missile systems, much to the chagrin of its Asian neighbors and the United States. The dispute centers around the Spratly and Paracel Islands. "For China, this is their time". The South China Sea will likely be a hot topic throughout the summit, as most claimants will be attending.

Beijing has also ignored a landmark ruling a year ago by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which said there was no legal basis for China's maritime claims.



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