Kerry says he's confident Trump
administration will stick to peaceful policies in Asia
Send a link to a friend
[January 13, 2017]
By Mai Nguyen
HO CHI MINH CITY (Reuters) - Outgoing U.S.
Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday he was confident the next
administration would stick to the same peaceful principles on Asian
security as the current one, despite hawkish comments from
President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet picks.
Referring to the disputed South China Sea, Kerry told a university
audience in Ho Chi Minh City that countries, big or small, should
refrain from provocation and any dispute should be resolved peacefully
in accordance with international law.
Kerry said he was "confident the next administration will continue to
adhere to the same good faith with the policies that I just
His comments came after his nominated replacement, Rex Tillerson, said
the United States must send a clear signal to China that its
island-building in the South China Sea must stop and that its access to
those islands must not be allowed.
On Thursday, Trump's pick to lead the Pentagon, retired Marine General
James Mattis, said Russia, China and Islamist militants were presenting
the biggest challenge to the U.S.-led world order since World War Two,
and called for Congress to lift spending caps undermining military
China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea, through which
about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbours
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.
China has reclaimed seven reefs in the area, building man-made islands
with anti-aircraft and anti-missile batteries, satellite images show.
The United States would have to "wage a large-scale war" in the South
China sea to prevent Chinese access to the islands, the influential
state-run Chinese tabloid, the Global Times, said on Friday.
"Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear power strategies if he wants to
force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories," the
The Philippines, which is seeking to improve ties with Beijing, said any
U.S. action to drive China from the artificial islands would be its own
prerogative, and in its own national interest.
[to top of second column]
Secretary of State John Kerry waves as he boards his plane at Hanoi
Airport as he departs, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay was replying to a question during a
television interview about Tillerson's comments.
"They said that they would prevent China from doing or undertaking
these kind of activity. If it wants to do that, they have the force
to do so, let them do it," Yasay said.
China has built several artificial islands in the exclusive economic
zone of the Philippines, which an arbitration tribunal in The Hague
last year ruled unlawful.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated last month he wanted
to avoid confrontation with China and saw no need to press Beijing
to abide by the ruling.
Yasay earlier said the Philippines wanted to strengthen ties with
the United States and that Washington should be an "influential
force" in Asia and help maintain balance there.
He said he hoped the new government in Washington would refrain from
criticising countries, as the Obama administration had over the
Philippines’ deadly drugs war, and he welcomed Tillerson's views
that decisions and comments should be based on facts.
(Additional reporting by Martin Petty and Neil Jerome Morales in
Manila; Writing by My Pham and Nick Macfie; Editing by Clarence
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.