Trump Offers To Mediate in South China Sea Dispute

13 November, 2017, 12:24 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Image US President Donald Trump and Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang

The United States has criticized China's construction of islands and its build-up of military facilities in the sea, and is concerned they could be used to restrict free nautical movement. Some $3-trillion in goods passes through the sea each year, according to Reuters.

The US President, who expressed his great friendship with Chinese president Xi Jinping in the early stage of his Asia tour, acknowledged in Vietnam that China's position on the South China Sea, almost all of which is claimed by Beijing, was a problem.

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

"I will congratulate your guys here who make the firearms - very good, very accurate".

U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang attend a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam, Sunday.

The long-simmering disputes are one issue where the two major powers' influence, focus and military might have been gauged, with the USA and China both calling for a peaceful resolution but taking contrasting positions in most other aspects of the conflict.

In 2014, China moved an oil rig into waters off Vietnam's coast, sparking violent protests in several Vietnamese cities.

Ahead of his visit to Vietnam, Xi also said that China and Vietnam - another claimant - need to "stay committed to seeking a fundamental and durable solution to their maritime issues acceptable to both sides through friendly consultation", he is quoted as saying in Chinese state media.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte set the tone of cordiality ahead of the two days of summit meetings he will host, suggesting that despite their differences over claims to the South China Sea, the leaders should not discuss the issue.

Unlike China, the U.S.is not a claimant to the potentially oil-rich and busy waters, but it has declared that it has a national interest in ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight and the peaceful resolution of the disputes.

Later Monday China and ASEAN, which includes Vietnam, were expected to announce in Manila that they have agreed to begin talks on a much-delayed code of conduct for the sea.

China claims sovereignty over all of South China Sea, a huge source of hydrocarbons.

All parties say the framework is only an outline for how the code will be established and critics raise doubts about how effective the pact will be.

The statement will be issued after a meeting between China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Philippines capital, a diplomatic source said.

Trump said in Vietnam on November 12 before leaving to attend a summit of Asian leaders in the Philippines. A recent survey put the favourability of the United States at 84 percent among Vietnamese. At $32 billion a year ago, it was the sixth largest with the United States, though less than a tenth the size of China's. "He wants it to be a world of peace and stability and we thank him for that".

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