United States President Barack Obama and China President Xi Jinping discussed the issue of maritime disputes in East China Sea and West Philippine Sea during a meeting at White House last week. “We did have candid discussions on the East and South China Seas, and I reiterated the right of all countries to freedom of navigation and overflight and to unimpeded commerce,” the US President said in a joint press conference with the Chinese leader September 25.
“I indicated that the United States will continue to sail, fly and operate anywhere that international law allows. I conveyed to President Xi our significant concerns over land reclamation, construction and the militarization of disputed areas, which makes it harder for countries in the region to resolve disagreements peacefully,” Obama added.
He added that while US is not a claimant nation, “rules of the road” must be upheld in solving and dealing with disputes.
The Chinese President said China is committed in peaceful development, however, reiterated his country’s sovereignty over West Philippine Sea island and features which include the Spratly Islands.
“Islands in the South China Sea since ancient times are China’s territory,” Xi said. “We have the right to uphold our own territorial sovereignty and lawful and legitimate maritime rights and interests.”
He added that construction activities in Spratly Islands “do not target or impact any country, and China does not intend to pursue militarization.”