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China seeks US backing in negotiations with PH

China’s foreign minister has asked US Secretary of State John Kerry to support the resumption of talks between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea, following a ruling against Beijing over the dispute earlier this month.

China did not participate in and has refused to accept the July 12 ruling by the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration, in which Manila won an emphatic legal victory.

Meeting in the Laos capital Vientiane on Monday during a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Kerry that China and ASEAN had agreed the dispute should get back onto the “correct” track of being resolved by direct talks with the parties concerned.

China “hopes the United States side talks actual steps to support the resumption of talks between China and the Philippines, and support the efforts of China and ASEAN to maintain regional peace and stability,” Wang said, according to a foreign ministry statement released on Tuesday.

China has repeatedly blamed the United States for stoking tensions in the South China Sea and of taking sides in the dispute, charges Washington denies.

Competing claims with China in the vital shipping lane and resource-rich sea are among the most contentious issues for the 10 members of ASEAN, who are pulled between their desire to assert their sovereignty while fostering ties with an increasingly assertive Beijing.

China’s foreign ministry said Wang again urged Tokyo not to intervene in the South China Sea, saying Japan was not a claimant in the disputes and should avoid interfering in up the maritime spats.

“The China-Japan relations are still vulnerable and unsatisfactory,” Wang told Fumio Kishida, Japan’s minister for foreign affairs. (Reuters)

Japan and allies Australia and the United States issued a joint statement voicing their “strong opposition to any coercive unilateral actions” in the South China Sea and calling on both the Philippines and China to abide by the legally binding ruling.

China scored a diplomatic victory on Monday as Southeast Asian nations dropped any reference to the court ruling in a joint statement in the face of resolute objections from Cambodia, China’s closest ASEAN ally. (Reuters)

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