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US Will Not Tolerate Limits on Sea, Air Routes in South China Sea - Kerry

© AFP 2021 / POOL / RITCHIE B. TONGO Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan
Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan - Sputnik International
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The United States will not tolerate limits on airspace and sea routes in and around the highly contested Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement on Thursday.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — China alongside the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam claim various parts of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The disputed territories potentially hold large reserves of oil and gas.

China lays territorial claim to nearly all of the South China Sea, and is building artificial islands in the region, some with defense facilities.

“The United States will not accept restrictions on freedom of navigation and overflight, or other lawful uses of the sea,” Kerry said. “These are intrinsic rights that we all share. It doesn’t matter whether a vessel is a large warship or a tiny fishing boat. The principle is clear: The rights of all nations must be respected.”

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, in this file still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft and provided by the United States Navy on May 21, 2015 - Sputnik International
Beijing: Reclamation Works in South China Sea Has Stopped
Kerry also urged the countries involved in the dispute to halt their land reclamation efforts and construction of new facilities on the islands to ease regional tension.

“I have urged all claimants to make a joint commitment to halt further land reclamation and construction of new facilities or militarization on disputed features,” Kerry said.

“Such steps would lower tensions and create diplomatic space for a meaningful Code of Conduct to emerge by the time our leaders meet here in November.”

Kerry added the construction of facilities for military activities in or around the islands “only raises tensions and the destabilizing risk of militarization by other claimant states.”

Beijing’s pursuit of the South China Sea and reclamation projects in the Spratly Islands has led to deteriorating relations with the United States and its close regional ally Japan.

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