Kerry said disputes between countries should be resolved
peacefully through arbitration and the United States would speak out
when China took unilateral actions that raised the potential for
A day after announcing $32.5 million to stiffen maritime security in
South East Asia, the bulk of it to Vietnam, Kerry said the United
States would provide $40 million to the Philippines over three years
to build its capacity to police the South China Sea.
"We don't view the situation as one of rising tensions and we don't
want rising tensions," Kerry told a news conference with his
Philippine counterpart Albert del Rosario.
"What we are involved in are normal processes by which we work with
other countries in order to raise their maritime protection
Kerry said the United States had not taken a position on any
particular claims by countries but did not agree with the way China
had asserted itself in a dispute with Japan in the East China Sea.
"We are not approaching this with any particular view towards China
except to say when China makes a unilateral move, we will state our
position and make clear what we agree and disagree with," Kerry told
a news conference.
He said the United States would stand by its allies in the region
who are trying to resolve disputes with others through legal means.
Beijing's assertion of sovereignty over a vast stretch of the South
China Sea has set it directly against Vietnam and the Philippines — the two countries Kerry is visiting — while Brunei, Taiwan and
Malaysia also lay claim to other parts of the sea, making it one of
Asia's biggest potential trouble spots.
The Philippines has a $1.7-billion spending plan to upgrade military
capabilities, particularly surveillance and monitoring systems, on
its maritime borders in the South China Sea.
Maritime security will also feature prominently in Kerry's talks
with government officials in the Philippines, as it did on his
previous stop in Vietnam.
Regional tension with China has escalated over the territorial
claims in the South China Sea. Separately, China and Japan are
embroiled in a dispute over islands in the East China Sea.
The United States has said it is not taking sides in any of the
disputes but has moved in recent weeks to defend allies against new
moves by Beijing to control regional waters.
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On Wednesday Kerry will travel to Tacloban in the central
Philippines, the epicenter of super typhoon Haiyan, which decimated
towns and villages on November 8. The storm has killed more than
6,000 people and displaced 4 million.
U.S. Marines and humanitarian groups have joined in a
multimillion-dollar relief effort to deliver aid to survivors.
While the United States has said it does not intend to open new
military or naval bases in the region, Kerry will discuss ways that
the U.S. can help respond quicker during disasters in the region
such as typhoon Haiyan.
HEIGHTENED TENSION WITH CHINA
The heightened tension with China has raised concerns that a minor
incident in the disputed sea could quickly escalate.
U.S. and Chinese warships narrowly avoided collision in the South
China Sea last week, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said in a statement on
On Monday, Kerry warned China to refrain from unilateral actions in
the region, and particularly over the South China Sea, and urged
countries to resolve differences peacefully.
Kerry's visit to Southeast Asia comes as the United States strives
for a trade deal with 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific. A
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is the centerpiece of
U.S. efforts to refocus attention on the fast-growing region.
The Philippines has also expressed interest in joining the pact and
Kerry said a delegation from Manila would visit Washington in
January for technical talks.
(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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