The United States will be looking to calm tensions stoked by recent Chinese oil drilling in disputed waters of the South China Sea at an upcoming meeting of the region’s foreign ministers. Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip in Myanmar, starting Saturday, comes after China angered Vietnam by deploying a deep-sea oil rig for two months near islands claimed by both countries. Top diplomat for East Asia, Daniel Russel, told reporters that China’s withdrawal of the rig in mid-July had removed an irritant but left a legacy of anger and strained relations with Vietnam and likely raised serious questions among China’s other neighbors about its long-term strategy. At the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the Myanmar capital, Naypyitaw, Washington will be proposing that South China Sea claimants take voluntary steps to reduce tensions. The US suggests freezing actions that change the status quo, like seizing unoccupied islands and land reclamation. The US would also urge conclusion of a long-delayed, code of conduct—another initiative China is unenthusiastic about.
Source: Philippine Star