U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in the People’s Republic of China Tuesday as part of a regional tour in a move to dissolve tensions between Beijing and its neighbors over territorial disputes.
While in Beijing, Clinton will have intensive meetings with Chinese diplomats after meeting with the country’s foreign minister Tuesday.
The Chinese regime in recent months has disputed the ownership of tiny, rocky islands in the East and South China seas, which are in areas said to have reserves of oil and natural gas.
In the most recent and well-publicized incident, Chinese Foreign Ministry officials lashed out at Japan over who has sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands (called Daioyu Islands by the Chinese), while pro-China activists sailed to the islands to plant a flag before getting arrested.
China has sent warships to the Scarborough Shoal, a small group of rocks in the South China Sea, in a face off against the Philippines, leading Filipino officials to eventually withdraw from the area.
Both China and Vietnam claim the Paracel Islands, and China has claimed several of the Spratly Islands, which lie offshore of the Philippines.
“And you know what our bottom line is on this, that we want a collaborative, diplomatic solution to this,” State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said Tuesday, according to a transcript.
The United States does not “take any particular position on various competing claims, but we want a collaborative diplomatic process that avoids coercion, and you know that the secretary has been clear about that,” Ventrell added.
Clinton, in remarks delivered Monday in Indonesia, called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China “to make meaningful progress toward finalizing a comprehensive code of conduct” to address territorial disputes in the region.
However, the United States has maintained that it has an interest in the freedom of navigation in the East and South China seas.
In July, China angered the Philippines, Vietnam, and the United States after it created a military garrison in Sansha City on Woody Island in the Paracels. The city was created in June to oversee the area.
The United States has stressed that during Clinton’s visit to China she will stress mutual cooperation and discuss issues relating to North Korea, Iran, and Syria. Both Russia and China have jointly acted three times to veto United Nations Security Council resolutions on Syria.
Clinton flew to Beijing after holding meetings with Indonesian officials, focusing on territorial disputes, but before she arrived, the Chinese Foreign Ministry and state-run media outlets warned her and the United States to stay out of regional disputes involving China.
“The U.S. politicians, who preposterously fancy they could do gold-digging in China and rein in China’s rise simultaneously, should remember the old saying that no one can have his cake and eat it too,” Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Xinhua said Tuesday.
It also described the United States as “a sneaky troublemaker sitting behind some nations in the region and pulling strings.”
The United States has denied that its policies are specifically targeting China in the Asia-Pacific region.
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