Territorial disputes between Beijing and its neighbours are making waves in relations with the United States.
In talks hosted by his Chinese counterpart, US Secretary of State John Kerry has voiced concern about the pace and scope of China’s land reclamation drive in the South China Sea, notably around seven reefs in the contested Spratly archipelago.
Beijing, however, shows no sign of backing down.
“Regarding construction on the Nansha islands and reefs, this is fully within the scope of China’s sovereignty,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, using his country’s name for the Spratly Islands.
“But with regard to all parties’ concerns, we are willing to increase mutual understanding through dialogue.”
China’s rapid reclamation effort within the Spratly archipelago has alarmed other claimants like the Philippines and Vietnam.
“I urged China through Foreign Minister Wang to take actions that will join everybody in helping to reduce tensions and increase the prospect of a diplomatic solution,” Kerry told reporters during his two-day visit to China.
Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.
Japan, meanwhile, fears China’s domination of the region could give it control of international waterways used by Tokyo for trade. Against this backdrop, the Japanese Coastguard has been conducting joint drills with its Vietnamese counterpart.