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US Threatens China Over Territorial Issues

US Threatens China Over Territorial Issues April 4, 2014Leave a comment

(CHINA) — The US gave a strong warning to China not to escalate territorial tensions in the Asia-Pacific region if it doesn’t want to face American retaliation. In his statement, a US official used sanctions on Russia over Crimea’s accession as an example.

Although it’s difficult to gauge China’s response at this point,  more pressure needs to be brought to bear for them to abide by  diplomatic principles for settling territorial disputes, came the  advice from the US assistant secretary of state for East Asia,  Daniel Russel, speaking to a meeting of the Senate Foreign  Relations Committee.

Regarding how to make China comply, the top official had a ready  solution, saying that the recent sanctions imposed by the US and  EU on Russia should have “a chilling effect on anyone in  China who might contemplate the Crimea annexation as a  model,” Reuters reports.

Russel believes that the added effect of punishing China in this  way would be compounded by its economic interdependence with the  United States. But these remarks got a prompt reaction from a  Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, who accused Russel  of confusing two different issues.

Speaking to a news briefing on Friday, Hong said that “No matter  whether it’s the Ukraine or the South China Sea issue, China has  many times expressed its position. Why must this US official  mention the two issues in the same breath, and obstinately say  these things about China?”

The spokesman was referring to maritime and land border South  China Sea disputes the country has with Japan, Taiwan, the  Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

China has recently deployed a sizeable number of war ships in the  disputed waters with the Philippines, which in turn filed a  complaint against China on Sunday for the deployment.

Russel says this “appears to be intimidating steps” to  the US, adding that “it is incumbent on all of the claimants  to foreswear intimidation, coercion and other non-diplomatic or  extra-legal means.”

He clarified his argument by saying that the US has no problem  staying out of China’s territorial disputes, and was simply  warning China not to make any wrong moves that might land it in  hot water. Especially in view of the fact that the US has active  defense cooperation deals with the Philippines, South Korea and  Japan.

“The president of the United States and the Obama  administration is firmly committed to honoring our defense  commitments to our allies,” Russel explained.

He still did not make it clear what kind of defense commitments  he was talking about and how the US will “honor” them.  If this means imposing sanctions, a favorite US strategy to make  an influence, there are no guarantees this would in fact work.

In the Russian case, US sanctions imposed on the country over  Crimea, which Russel cited as an example, so far, seem to have  had little effect on Russia’s firm position on Crimea, but did  provoke sarcastic comments from Russian politicians involved.

President Obama will be visiting Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and  the Philippines starting April 22, when he will reassert  America’s support for strategic and economic partnerships in the  Asia-Pacific region.

But it remains to be seen how successful diplomatic means will be  at restoring trust among regional players, when games of  tit-for-tat over territories are commonplace.

On Friday, China, together with South Korea, issued condemnation  of new Japanese school textbooks which stated that disputed  islands were in fact Japanese. This led South Korean First Vice  Minister Cho Tae-yong to contact Japan’s ambassador to Seoul to  voice discontent, and warn that such measures would lead to  worsening ties between the two countries.

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