ROILO GOLEZ, Philippine National Security Adviser (2001-2004). The world and the Philippines as Roilo Golez sees it. With focus on national security, geopolitics, geo-security, economics, science and government.
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
In Beijing, John Kerry Calls For Peaceful South China Sea Resolution Tim Daiss , CONTRIBUTOR. Forbes
In Beijing, John Kerry Calls For Peaceful South China Sea Resolution
Geopolitical analyst and journalist based in Southeast Asia.
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
On Monday, more Sino-U.S. relations rhetoric hit the news cycle, but much of it is the same that we’ve heard before. At the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed China over its recent actions in the South China Sea, while U.S. Trade Secretary Jack Lew urged China to stop dumping foreign markets with excess steel.
“The United States will make it clear that we are looking for a peaceful resolution to … the disputes of the South China Sea,” Kerry said in opening remarks. “Let’s not resolve this by unilateral action; let’s resolve this through rule of law, through diplomacy, through negotiation. And we urge all nations to find a diplomatic solution, rooted in international standards and rule of law,” he said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry attends the US – China High Level Consultation on People to People Exchange at the National Museum in Beijing, June 7, 2016. (Photo credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Kerry’s remarks come as tensions in the South China Sea continue to escalate amid Beijing’s land reclamation activities and artificial island building on disputed reefs, islets, shoals and structures in the troubled body of water. China, which claims more than 80% of the South China Sea, based in large part on historical ownership, plays its hand cleverly against a national sovereignty narrative that appeals to growing Chinese nationalism.
Vietnam, however, recently discovered maps to cast even more doubt over Beijing’s South China Sea claims. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam have competing claims in the Sea, which encompasses vital global shipping routes and is believed to have significant oil and gas deposits. More than $5 trillion in trade (including vital oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan) passes through the South China Sea each year.
The U.S. for its part, though not a claimant in the South China Sea and arguing that it does not take sides in its disputes, has a long-standing mutual defense treaty with former U.S. Commonwealth the Philippines, which lost effective control over Scarborough Shoal, just 140 nautical miles from Manila and well within its U.N. mandated 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), in 2012 after a two month standoff between a Philippine naval vessel and Chinese maritime vessels.
“I hope that this development doesn’t occur because it will result in actions being taken both by the United States, and actions being taken by others in the region that will have the effect of not only increasing tensions but isolating China,” Carter said when asked about Scarborough Shoal in a forum also attended by senior Chinese military officials.