Tags: AS | Southeast Asia | China

South China Sea Tensions Spill over to Defense Meeting

Tuesday, 03 November 2015 10:18 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Senior American defense officials say divisions within Asia created by China's disputed claims to underwater islands in the South China Sea have spilled over to a meeting of Southeast Asian defense ministers that is being attended by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

The officials said Wednesday that China, which like the United States is not a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations but was attending the meeting as an invited partner, was pushing to exclude from the meeting's final public statement any mention of the South China Sea.

China's claims in the South China Sea are disputed by several countries in the region, including Malaysia, which is hosting the meeting.

The U.S. defense officials spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations over the meeting's final statement were ongoing.

It was not clear what Carter or other attendees wanted the meeting's final public statement to say about the South China Sea, which is a highly trafficked waterway with longstanding territorial disputes.

Carter met with his Chinese counterpart, Chang Wanquan on Tuesday evening, and U.S. officials said afterward that Chang repeated the Chinese government's earlier criticisms of U.S. naval movements in the South China Sea. They said he called the U.S. actions provocative and illegal, but they also said the exchanges between Carter and Chang were cordial.

The U.S. officials who briefed reporters on the dispute about mentioning the South China Sea in the group's final statement said that it reflected divisions in the region created by China's reclamation of coral reefs and other land formations in the waterway. The U.S. asserts that China is militarizing these formations, but President Xi Jinping told President Barack Obama at the White House in September that China has no intention of militarizing the reclaimed islands.

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Senior American defense officials say divisions within Asia created by China's disputed claims to underwater islands in the South China Sea have spilled over to a meeting of Southeast Asian defense ministers that is being attended by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter.The...
AS,Southeast Asia,China
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2015-18-03
Tuesday, 03 November 2015 10:18 PM
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