Concerned over China’s hostile stance with regards to its claims over disputed territory in South China Sea, the US has urged Beijing and other countries in the region to avoid any kind of provocative or unilateral action that raises tension in the region.

“Our position remains that all concerned parties should avoid any kind of provocative or unilateral action that can raise tensions or undermine the prospect for a negotiated solution. That’s the message that we’re giving the Chinese privately as well,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters here.

The US is monitoring the situation and is in touch with the Chinese foreign ministry, she said.

The Pentagon reiterated its call for peaceful resolution of disputes and freedom of navigation in international waters.

Freedom of navigation

“Freedom of navigation is essential for any maritime nation and it applies to every maritime nation everywhere. As a (Asia-Pacific) power, we have a national interest in maritime freedoms,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters during an off camera news conference.

Responding to a question, Little called all parties to follow ASEAN Code of Conduct to resolve maritime disputes. Little further mentioned that this was what US Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta has stressed upon.

ASEAN Code of Conduct

“He (Panetta) expressed interest in strengthening ASEAN Code of Conduct, when it comes to maritime rules and norms in the international legal regime in that part of the world,” Little said.

China virtually claims the entire South China Sea in the Pacific as part of its territorial waters from ancient times and asserted its claims by printing the disputed portions on a map in the new e-passports being issued to its citizens.

That has brought regional countries like Vietnam and Philippines out in the open condemning China’s assertions and challenging its claims over the waters.

(This article was published on December 1, 2012)
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