US warns Beijing against new provocations in South China Sea

June 23, 2016 08:26
Beijing must use an upcoming international court ruling on South China Sea claims to restart serious talks with neighbors, says the US. Photo: Reuters

Beijing must refrain from any fresh provocative actions following an impending international court ruling on claims related to the South China Sea, the United States said on Wednesday.

"It isn't in (China's) interest to take additional provocative actions" after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague gives a ruling in the coming weeks, a State Department official said.

Washington has "a lot of options" to respond to any such Chinese moves in a region deemed vital to US interests, Reuters quoted Colin Willett, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia, as saying.

The official made it clear that the US will rally allies and partners in the region to ensure a unified front.

"We, the United States, do have very clear national interests in the area," Willett told Reuters.

"We have an interest in upholding our defense commitments and our security partnerships."

The consensus among analysts is that the decision of the international arbitration court in a case the Philippines has brought against Beijing will go largely against China's broad territorial claims.

Washington has warned China against declaring an air defense identification zone in the South China Sea, as it did in the East China Sea in 2013, and against stepping up its building and fortification of artificial islands.

Willett reiterated the US view that the court ruling must be binding.

China must use the ruling as "an opportunity to restart serious discussions" with its neighbors, the official said.

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