When the US holds talks with China for a Strategic and Economic Dialogue next week, one can expect China to raise the issue of the South China Sea. In fact, sources indicate that Beijing would put “pressure” on the U.S. with regard to maritime issues involving U.S. military presence along disputed territories in the said area.
Recently, there have been a number of incidents involving the U.S. and Chinese military. The U.S. has always maintained that it was only exercising freedom of navigation along international waters, a right that everyone is entitled too. In contrast, the Chinese have argued that such freedom is restricted when it comes to military vessels. Both argue that they are making their points valid based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Today, a report from Reuters revealed that state-run newspaper China Daily says that “Beijing will pressure Washington” concerning maritime matters during their upcoming meeting. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, it is also hoped that the upcoming talks will “follow the spirit” of an earlier meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama.
According to Chinese spokeswoman Hua Chunying, the goal is to “strengthen communication and mutual trust, manage and control disputes, expand cooperation, and move forward the new type of major-country relationship between China and the US.”
On the other hand, the State Department also believes that the upcoming talks would be a good venue to discuss several matters concerning the U.S.’ relationship with China.
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Danny Russel also says it would allow both sides to discuss issues like NGO management laws, restrictions on human rights as well as “concerns with Chinese behavior in the South China Sea.”
Furthermore, Russel believes that the Strategic and Economic dialogue is “capable of absorbing stress” from the U.S.-China relationship.