Kerry urges China to obey maritime laws as bilateral talks start

Beijing, June 6 (IANS) US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is visiting Beijing for the eighth session of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue that kicked off on Monday, has urged China to obey the rules of international law to resolve the South China Sea issue.

“The only position we have taken is not to sort this out through unilateral actions, but resolve it through the rule of law, diplomacy, negotiation,” Kerry said as the world’s two largest economies hope to reconcile their geopolitical disagreements and negotiate mutually beneficial investment deals in the two-day talks.

The talks will be held between Vice Premier Wang Yang and Chinese Councillor Yang Jiechi and Kerry and US Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.

Kerry had warned Beijing at a news conference days earlier that the Chinese establishment of an air defence zone over the South China Sea would be a “provocative and destabilising act”.

China had last month insisted on its rights to set up an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) extending up to 482 km beyond its territorial seas based on a 1947 map of the disputed, resource-rich South China Sea islands, Efe reported.

A verdict by Permanent Arbitration court in The Hague, on the appeal launched by the Philippines to thwart China’s growing domination over the archipelago, is also expected to darken the Sino-American dialogue.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said differences between the two countries are “natural”, and Washington should “avoid using the differences as an excuse for confrontation”, referring to US military redeployment in many of the six countries embroiled in the maritime spat.

Kerry has also expressed wishes for a consensus to pave the way for pending bilateral economic deals valued at about $30 billion — more than twice the $15 billion invested by Chinese companies in the North American nation last year.

According to the US Council on Foreign Relations, if the vital trade routes through the South China Sea and East China Sea are not managed wisely, multilateral conflicts are likely to erupt into battlefields that will mar economic gains.

“It’s up to us to ensure that America and China are more partners than rivals,” the US Secretary of State tweeted on Monday.

–IANS

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