KUALA LUMPUR: The United States hopes to move forward on its discussions with China over the South China Sea dispute at the 48th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM), United States Secretary of State John Kerry said today.
“The United States shares the frequently expressed desire of Asean members to preserve the peace and stability of the South China Sea.” Kerry said in his opening remarks here at the Asean-US Ministerial Meeting, which is related to the 48th AMM, at the Putra World Trade Centre here.
“We just had a good meeting with, I might say, the Foreign Minister of China (Wang Yi), and I hope very much that these meetings, over the course of today and tomorrow, we will find a way to move forward effectively together, all of us.”
Earlier, Wang told reporters after the closed-door meeting with Kerry that China and the US had reached an understanding on the South China Sea.
“The US and China discussed current issues on the South China Sea peacefully, and will peacefully resolve the issues. The US emphasised that it welcomed a strong, peaceful and growing China, and the US is willing to have a good and positive interaction with China and the Asia-Pacific,” Wang said.
"We have reached a ... mutual understanding."
Four Asean states – Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei – have overlapping claims in the South China Sea with each other and with China, which claims the sea almost in its entirety. This dispute has lead to the countries involved to reclaim shallow shoals and reefs in the sea in a bid to stake their claims.
China, in particular, has pursued an accelerated reclamation programme, building an airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef – which is in the middle of the South China Sea – that some security officials fear could be used to operate military jets.
The US, though not a direct party in the dispute, has been a vocal critic of China’s activities in the sea.
It was reported that Washington had called for three “halts”: halt in reclamation, halt in construction, and halt in aggressive actions that could further heighten tension.