China, US stress consensus, restraint in disputed sea

Top ranking generals stress need for joint efforts to maintain stability of South China Sea region

China, US stress consensus, restraint in disputed sea

World Bulletin / News Desk

Top ranking generals from China and the United States have agreed on the need to uphold a consensus between their leaders and practice restraint in the disputed South China Sea.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported Friday that the chief of general staff of the People's Liberation Army, Fang Fenghui, and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Joseph Dunford stressed the need for joint efforts during a video conversation Thursday.

Beijing considers almost all the resource-rich South China Sea its territory, and has overlapping claims with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

China's reclamation work in the region, which includes the building of airfields on some disputed islands, has prompted the U.S. and its allies to express alarm over the maritime expansion, which they suspect is aimed at extending its military reach.

Fang, who is also a member of China's Central Military Commission, insisted Thursday that Beijing’s actions have not resulted in tensions in the region, calling on both countries and militaries to handle their differences constructively.

While he highlighted China’s readiness to cooperate to uphold the consensus agreed upon by the countries’ presidents, Dunford said the U.S. was also willing to work toward setting up an effective mechanism on risk control for the region’s stability.

Dunford described the overall dynamic between the militaries as sound and well, with the exception of “occasional frictions”, underlining that conflicts “are not in the fundamental interests of the two peoples”.

The South China Sea is a critical asset for global shipping and fishing that sees more than $5 trillion in maritime trade every year.

Earlier this week, a U.S. guided missile destroyer sailed near a reef in the sea’s disputed Spratly Islands chain, after the U.S. navy conducted "freedom of navigation" operations in the waters in October -- a move Beijing had called “provocative”.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Mayıs 2016, 17:48
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