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The White House remarks have raised the prospect of a confrontation between the world’s two biggest powers.
The White House remarks have raised the prospect of a confrontation between the world’s two biggest powers.

White House Warns Beijing on S. China Sea

The US has taken a tougher line on international waterway while a Chinese diplomat said his country would assume world leadership, if needed

White House Warns Beijing on S. China Sea

The White House warned China it will “defend” US and international “interests” in the South China Sea and that trade must be a “two-way street.”
Signaling US President Donald Trump’s tough stance against Beijing on Monday, spokesman Sean Spicer said “the US is going to make sure we protect our interests” in the South China Sea, AFP reported.
“If those islands are, in fact, in international waters and not part of China proper, yeah, we’ll make sure we defend international interests from being taken over by one country.”
China lays claim to a vast extent of South China Sea within a so-called “nine dash line”, including waters claimed by several of its neighbors.
Under the former administration that preceded Trump’s, Washington insisted it was neutral on the legal question of sovereignty over the islets, reefs and shoals.
But, while calling for the dispute to be resolved under international law, the US supported freedom of navigation by sending naval patrols through Chinese-claimed turf.
Last week, former ExxonMobil chief executive and secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, suggested a hardening of this stance, calling China’s building of bases on the disputed islands illegal.
“We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first the island building stops, and second, your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed,” he said.
Tillerson’s remarks raised the prospect of confrontation between the world’s two greatest powers and Spicer did nothing from the White House podium to walk them back.
He also took a tough line on trade, returning to Trump’s campaign theme that existing rules favor Chinese exports to the United States and cost American jobs.

  World Leadership
China does not want world leadership but could be forced to assume that role if others step back from that position, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday, after Trump pledged to put “America first” in his first speech.
Zhang Jun, director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s International Economics Department, made the statement during a briefing with foreign journalists to discuss President Xi Jinping’s visit to Switzerland last week.
Topping the bill at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Xi portrayed China as the leader of a globalised world where only international cooperation could solve the big problems.
Speaking days before Trump assumed the presidency, Xi also urged countries to resist isolationism, signaling Beijing’s desire to play a bigger role on the global stage.
Elaborating on that theme, Zhang said China had no intention of seeking global leadership.
“If anyone were to say China is playing a leadership role in the world, I would say it’s not China rushing to the front but rather the front runners have stepped back leaving the place to China,” Zhang said.
“If China is required to play that leadership role, then China will assume its responsibilities.” 
At his inauguration on Friday, Trump struck a nationalist and populist tone, pledging to end what he called an “American carnage” of rusted factories and crime.
While Trump said American workers have been devastated by the outsourcing of jobs abroad, he did not mention China by name in his inaugural speech. However, he has threatened to put punitive tariffs on imports of Chinese goods.
Zhang said he thought Trump would not be able to achieve his economic growth goals, if he was also fighting trade wars.
Separately, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said Xi had sent a congratulatory message to Trump upon his assumption of office, but gave no other details.

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