18:58 GMT20 January 2021
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    The United States does not seek to confront China over the South China Sea dispute, US President Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The United States views China's control over various islands in the South China Sea, which are also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam, as illegal. Earlier in April, a contingent of 200 US Air Force personnel deployed in the Philippines conducted a series of exercises with their Filipino counterparts patrolling air and sea lanes in the region.

    "So with respect to the South China Sea, rather than operate under international norms and rules, their attitude is, 'We're the biggest kids around here. And we're gonna push aside the Philippines or the Vietnamese.'<…> But it doesn't mean that we're trying to act against China. We just want them to be partners with us," Obama told the CBS broadcaster during his recent visit to Europe.

    The United States will hold China to account if it breaks international rules in the disputed territories, the president added.

    Obama stressed China's role in maintaining global security.

    "I've been consistent, since I've been president, in believing that a productive, candid relationship between the United States and China is vital, not just to our two countries, but to world peace and security," Obama said.

    The South China Sea contains a number of disputed islands. The Paracel Islands are controlled by China while being claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam. The Spratly Islands are contested by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. On Monday, Chinese media reported that China plans to start reclaiming land around the Scarborough Shoal, which is also claimed by Taiwan and the Philippines.


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