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U.S. 'appreciates' South China Sea Peace Initiative: official

U.S. 'appreciates' South China Sea Peace Initiative: official

Washington, May 26 (CNA) The United States welcomed a Taiwan initiative for peace in the disputed South China Sea, an official with the U.S. State Department said Tuesday. "We, of course, appreciate Taiwan's call on claimants to exercise restraint, to refrain from unilateral actions that could escalate tensions, and to respect international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention," said State Department acting deputy spokesman Jeff Rathke. Rathke said the U.S. position on the South China Sea is "longstanding." "With regard to the maritime claims and the claims to sovereignty over land features in the South China Sea, our position is that maritime claims must accord with the Law of the Sea," Rathke said.
"We have a strong interest in peace and security and in the manner in which claimants address their disputes,' he said. President Ma Ying-jeou (???) proposed the South China Sea Peace Initiative in Taipei on Tuesday.
It calls for the parties concerned to exercise restraint from taking unilateral actions that could escalate tensions, respect international law, solve disputes through dialogue and in a peaceful manner to maintain free and safe passage for ships and flights on and over the South China Sea. Asked to comment on China's military strategy white paper that tried to downplay the land reclamation projects Beijing is undertaking in the South China Sea, Rathke said the United States will continue to monitor China's military developments carefully. "We will also continue to urge China to exhibit greater transparency with respect to its capability and to its intention," he said. "So in conjunction with that, we encourage China to use its military capabilities in a manner that is conducive to maintaining peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region," he said. He said China's extensive land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea have contributed to rising tensions in the region.
While Rathke refrained from describing China's actions as violating international law, he said that "under international law it's clear that land reclamation cannot change the maritime zones of a geographical feature. That would include a territorial sea or an exclusive economic zone." China claims the South China Sea as its sovereign territory, and a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said Tuesday that the building of a naval base on the Spratly Islands was "no different" than construction going on anywhere else in China. China has claimed that the artificial islands also have territorial waters that cannot be broached and warned off a U.S. reconnaissance plane last week as it approached one of the reclaimed islands in the Spratly Islands. Several countries, including Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, China and Vietnam, claim parts or all of the South China Sea (By Rita Cheng and Lilian Wu)


Updated : 2021-09-23 15:05 GMT+08:00