Tuesday, July 8, 2014

US: China's Sea Claims Are Ambiguous, Problematic

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, second from right, wave to journalists as they visit to Badaling Great Wall of China in Beijing, China, July 8, 2014.
VOA News
July 08, 2014 6:34 AM

A U.S. official is calling China's disputed claims in the South China Sea "problematic," as the two countries prepare for a round of annual talks in Beijing on Wednesday.

China's maritime tensions with its neighbors are likely to be a major focus of the talks, which are being led on the U.S. side by Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

A senior U.S. official traveling with Kerry said Tuesday China's so-called nine-dash line that outlines Beijing's South China Sea claims is too ambiguous and is causing tensions.

The United States said it takes no sides in China's disputes with its neighbors, though Washington has increased diplomatic and military cooperation with several of Beijing's rival claimants.

Many Asian countries accuse China of using its growing military power to aggressively advance its disputed sea claims and exploit the region's natural resources.

Two days of talks

The two days of talks, which are known as the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, will also focus on how to deal with the threat of North Korea's nuclear weapons.

The U.S. official praised the "steady convergence in the views between Washington and Beijing on both the importance and urgency in moving North Korea to take irreversible steps to denuclearize."

China is North Korea's only major ally. The United States has been pushing for Beijing to use its economic and diplomatic clout to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.

Another sensitive issue likely to be brought up by U.S. officials in Beijing is cyber security.

The United States is pushing for the resumption of regular cyber security talks called off earlier this year when Washington charged five Chinese military officers with cyber espionage.

China angrily rejected the spying accusations. Beijing hit back at the United States with accusations of its own, saying the recent revelations by ex-U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden proved the U.S. also engages in improper spying.

Washington has argued that its cyber activities are different than China's, saying the United States does not carry out online spying for the sole purpose of gaining economic advantages.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is also expected to raise long-standing concerns over the Chinese yuan, which U.S. officials say China is undervaluing in order to give its exporters an advantage.

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