China and the United States are budging not a bit over Beijing’s assertive development in disputed parts of the South China Sea, with Chinese officials politely but pointedly dismissing Washington’s push for U.S.-proposed ways to ease tensions.
As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up a visit to China on Sunday, both sides stressed the importance of dialogue to resolve competing claims in the waterway. But neither showed any sign of giving ground over Chinese land reclamation projects that have alarmed the United States and China’s smaller neighbors.
Kerry met Sunday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will be making an official visit to the United States this fall and sought to highlight U.S.-China cooperation.
“In my view, U.S.-China relations have remained stable overall,” Xi told Kerry at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, adding that he “look(ed) forward to continue to grow this relationship” on his upcoming visit.
Despite those words, which came shortly before Kerry left Beijing and arrived in Seoul, South Korea, friction over China’s construction in the South China Sea was evident and clouded the start of Kerry’s brief trip to Asia.
The U.S. and most members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations want a halt to the projects, which they suspect are aimed at building islands and other land features over which China can claim sovereignty.
“We are concerned about the pace and scope of China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea,” Kerry said on Saturday. He urged China to speed up talks with ASEAN on guidelines for handling maritime activity in disputed areas.
The goal is to help “reduce tensions and increase the prospect of diplomatic solutions,” Kerry said.
Report by Associated Press.
Teng Jianqun on U.S.-China relations
For more on US-China relations, CCTV’s Susan Roberts spoke to Teng Jianqun in Beijing.Teng is a senior research fellow, and directs the Department for American Studies, at the China Institute of International Studies.