US President Barack Obama accused China of “flexing its muscles” through territorial claims and the building of new islands in disputed waters in the South China Sea.
“There are some real tensions that have arisen with China around its approach to maritime issues and its claims,” Obama said in Washington Tuesday.
“Rather than resolve these issues through normal international dispute settlements, [the Chinese] are flexing their muscles,” he said. “That’s the wrong way to go about it.”
At a joint news conference with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama assured Tokyo of US commitment to defend Japanese territory, including tiny islands in dispute with Beijing, Reuters reported.
“I want to reiterate that our treaty commitment to Japan’s security is absolute,” Obama was quoted as saying.
Japan is in direct dispute with Beijing over East China Sea islets known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
Other Asian nations such as the Philippines and Vietnam, meanwhile, are concerned about China’s reclamation effort around seven reefs in the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea.
In other comments, Obama pledged to work with Tokyo on a Trans-Pacific trade deal that would encompass 12 countries, but which does not include China.
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