Locke pushes for dialogue

Updated: 2012-09-14 11:30

By Tan Yingzi in Washington (China Daily)

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Locke pushes for dialogue

US Ambassador to China Gary Locke (R) talks during an event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and US-China Business Council in Washington, DC, Thursday. [Photo by Sun Chenbei/chinadaily.com.cn]

US Ambassador to China Gary Locke re-emphasized the US' neutral stance on the territorial disputes in both the East China Sea and South China Sea in a speech on Thursday in Washington, saying the issue should be resolved through dialogue.

"We are very sincere about our statement saying we are neutral," he said after delivering a speech at an event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and US-China Business Council, his only public appearance during his trip to the capital.

"We take no position on who is right and we do believe that both sides need to try to resolve this and it counts on China and the Philippines to have their own negotiations, China and Vietnam on a bilateral basis," he added.

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In July 2010, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waded into the South China Sea territorial disputes by telling a regional security forum in Vietnam that a peaceful resolution of the disputes over the Nansha and the Xisha islands was an American national interest. She also suggested a multilateral solution.

China, with its claims of the South China Sea overlapping claims by Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines, has been trying to solve the issue through bilateral negotiations.

Since April, tensions between China and Japan have escalated over territorial claims to the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

Locke pushes for dialogue

A protester, taking part in a demonstration outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Thursday, displays a sign stating that "The Diaoyu Islands belong to China, Japan get out of China". Jason Lee / Reuters

On Tuesday, despite the opposition from Beijing, Japanese government purchased three of the Diaoyu Islands.

Two China Marine Surveillance patrol ships reached waters around the islands on Tuesday morning. The Chinese military said it reserves the right to take action to defend the territory.

The Philippines also made a provocative move on Wednesday to unilaterally rename the waters around, within and adjacent to China's Nansha Islands and Huangyan Island as the "West Philippine Sea" in an administrative order signed by President Benigno Aquino, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Ambassador Locke said that during Secretary Clinton's previous visit to Beijing, both Washington and Beijing had "very good" discussions on those territorial issues, with both seeking to "lower the temperature."

"What we do care about is that making sure that neither side, no claimant, engages in any type of activity that escalates tensions and jeopardizes safety and freedom of navigation for everybody," he said.