Friday, 17 November, 2017

Xi Jinping: China to Maintain Peace in the South China Sea

Wilma Wheeler | 13 November, 2017, 01:21

"If I can help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know", Mr Trump said.

Vietnam and the USA have grown increasingly close in recent years as both countries fear Chinese ambitions in the South China Sea. Both Trump and Xi were following on from the latest APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit that concluded Saturday in the coastal city of Danang, 470 miles (750 kilometers) south of Hanoi.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will host world leaders in Manila from Sunday, hoping their presence will quieten worldwide criticism over his deadly drugs war, which rights groups say may be a crime against humanity.

The South China Sea dispute will be one of the major issues at the East Asia Summit in The Philippines this week.

China and Vietnam have been in dispute over Chinese island building in the South China Sea, and Vietnam's sudden halt to gas exploration in July after a Chinese threat.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday he can envision the US and North Korea agreeing to hold talks at some point as a precursor to formal negotiations.

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.

The resource-rich disputed waters of the South China Sea have always been a bone of contention between the regional players - China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.

The Philippines will be Trump's last stop on a marathon tour that has taken him to Japan, South Korea, China as well as Vietnam.

He said that Trump and Xi had discussed ways to "prevent mishaps, misunderstandings and miscalculations" in the vital seaway.

Riot police used water canon to prevent hundreds of protesters reaching the USA embassy in Manila on Sunday, just a few hours before the arrival of President Donald Trump in the Philippines for a regional summit and the last leg of his Asia tour.

"(US) Foreign policy in Asia has had its oxygen sucked out the room", he said.

China is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which sets territorial limits at 10 miles, with a 200-mile economic exclusion zone from a country's coast.

The framework seeks to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea.

Since coming to office 16 months ago, the firebrand leader has been conciliatory to Beijing, despite a ruling by an global arbitration court favoring the Philippines in its territorial dispute with China.

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