5 Sep 2012

US warned not to enter disputes of islands

5:40 am on 5 September 2012

China has warned the United States not to get involved in South China Sea territorial disputes as the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived on Tuesday for talks.

Before her arrival in Beijing, the foreign ministry expressed its hope that the United States would maintain its previously stated position of neutrality over the South China Sea disputes.

"We hope the US side will keep its commitment and make efforts that help, rather than harm, regional peace and stability," said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

Earlier in Jakarta at the headquarters of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, Mrs Clinton called on ASEAN countries to stand together on the issue and pushed for a code of conduct governing maritime territorial disputes.

China has competing territorial claims with four ASEAN members in the South China Sea.

Mrs Clinton said on Tuesday that the United States "does not take a position on competing territorial claims".

"We believe the nations of the region should work collaboratively to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation and certainly without the use of force," she added.

The BBC reports Chinese media are lukewarm about Mrs Clinton's visit.

"Though US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the Asia-Pacific is big enough to hold both China and the United States, Washington still need to take concrete actions to improve its ties with China," Xinhua news agency said.

Mrs Clinton's last visit to China in 2 May was overshadowed by the diplomatic crisis over the blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, who fled to the US embassy.

He was later allowed to go to New York to study.