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US, China to Open Talks in Washington

US, China to Open Talks in Washingtoni
July 10, 2013 11:03 AM
U.S. and Chinese diplomats meet in Washington Wednesday for a security and economic dialogue expected to include rival territorial claims to the South China Sea. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.
US, China to Open Talks in Washington
U.S. and Chinese  diplomats meet in Washington Wednesday  for a security and economic dialogue expected to include rival territorial claims to the South China Sea. 

China is modernizing its navy and increasing patrols in the disputed waters of the South China Sea - where Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan are all contesting Beijing's claims.

Peacefully resolving that standoff is part of the agenda for this week's meetings in Washington.  It follows last week's U.S.-China talks in Brunei at a meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN where Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned against military action.

"Both China and other coastal states in the South China Sea are making efforts for a stable South China Sea.  I believe any activity taken by individual claimant countries to go against the trend will not enjoy the support of the majority of countries and will not succeed," said Wang Yi.

The U.S. often holds joint naval exercises with the Philllipines near the South China Sea, which is thought to hold rich deposits of oil and natural gas.

The Philippines blames China for "increasing militarization" and is moving to upgrade facilities at Subic Bay, a former U.S. base.

But other ASEAN nations are more cautious - a division that benefits China, says American University professor Pek Koon Heng.

"If you look at the spectrum of responses from the ASEAN countries, the claimant states to the Chinese claims, on the one hand is deference, they defer, they have to accommodate.  And then the other end is defiance.  So you see Vietnam on the deference end and the Philippines on the defiance end," said Pek Koon Heng.

Related - US Urged to Get Tough With China During Annual Talks

On the deference end, Vietnam is signing a series of agreements with China on defense and offshore oil exploration. 

Avoiding conflict in an area through which so much global commerce passes is critical, U.S. business leaders say.

"We would all be the losers: the people, the economies, the creation of jobs to see conflict erupt in that region," said Calman Cohen, who heads the Emergency Committee for American Trade. "It is not in any power's interest to see that result," said Calman Cohen who heads the Emergency Committee for American Trade.

While the United States does not take sides in the disputes, Secretary of State John Kerry said in Brunei that Washington has a strong interest in seeing them resolved peacefully.

"As a Pacific nation and a resident power, the United States has a national interest in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, unimpeded lawful commerce and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea," he said.

China has agreed to September talks in Beijing on a so-called "code of conduct" with ASEAN members to avoid conflict in the disputed waters.

Related report by Natalie Liu:

Economic & Cyber Espionage Issues May Dominate US-China Talksi
July 10, 2013 10:21 AM
As the United States and China open the fifth round of their Strategic and Economic Dialogue Wednesday, top U.S. officials are optimistic the two sides will agree to cooperate on a range of strategic issues. But major differences, analysts say, could emerge in the economic discussions where the intense competition between the two nations is highlighted by the controversy surrounding cyber security. Natalie Liu has more from Washington.

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Comment Sorting
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
July 11, 2013 12:10 AM
Concerning about deference versus defiance, I think most ASEAN countries are defiant to China on territorial disputes because Vietnam has a exceptional pro-China position after the Vietnam war.

The most important problems when dealing with territorial disuputes in South China sea seems Chinese overwhelming powers compared to its neighbours in every aspects of economy and militaly. Even Japan needs militally help from US to defend disputed islands as shown by the joint drills performed recently in East China sea. I am not sure if it is better or not US forces concern the east Asian territorial disputes. I hope ASEAN countries get together and creat solidarity to face overpower of China diplomatically.

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