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    An aerial photo shows Thitu Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines on July 20, 2011

    US Encourages South China Sea Claimants to Freeze All Reclamation

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    The US continues to insist all contesting parties in the South China Sea should halt reclamation activities, US Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken said at the 2015 Center for New American Security conference.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States has no territorial claims in the South China Sea, but the White House has stated its interest in upholding so-called international maritime norms. The United States is notably one of the few countries in the United Nations that has not signed onto the UN Law of the Sea convention.

    “What we have suggested to all of them [claimants in the South China Sea] is a freeze on reclamation activities,” Blinken said in a Friday speech.

    Blinken continued that the United States recommended to all claimants, including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines, to freeze construction on the islands in the South China Sea, and halt any militarization going on for defensive or other purposes.

    “If you do that, you create the time and space actually to solve the differences that exist through peaceful means,” Blinken explained.

    China and its neighbors have been increasingly at odds over maritime claims in the shared waters of the South China Sea. The United States has also raised concerned over freedom of navigation for US military vessels in the Beijing’s defined exclusive economic zone.

    Blinken accused China of attempting to “coercively change the status quo” and making territorial claims that are a “risk to the stability” of the Pacific region.

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