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John Kerry: 'Diplomatic solution' sought in South China Sea

The U.S. secretary of state urged China to stop seeking unilateral claims to a disputed maritime area.

By Elizabeth Shim
John Kerry: 'Diplomatic solution' sought in South China Sea
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, shown here last year in Beijing, sought a diplomatic solution to the growing dispute in the South China Sea on Monday. Earlier he had called on China to avoid a unilateral announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

BEIJING, June 6 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said regional stakeholders in Asia should seek a "diplomatic solution" to increased tensions in the South China Sea.

"We are looking for a peaceful resolution to the dispute in the South China Sea and oppose any country resolving claims through unilateral action," Kerry said.

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Kerry was speaking in Beijing ahead of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Voice of America reported Monday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also delivered a speech, calling for an increase in "mutual trust" between China and the United States.

RELATED China vows to stand ground on South China Sea territory claims

"The vast Pacific should be a stage for cooperation, not an area for competition," Xi said.

Beijing's race for legitimacy in the disputed Spratly Islands, however, has cast a long shadow over the South China Sea.

China's island-building activities have drawn condemnations from the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

RELATED Pentagon chief: China's actions could cause 'Great Wall of self-isolation'

Kerry had earlier called on China to forgo "unilaterally" announcing an Air Defense Identification Zone over the South China Sea.

"We will consider an ADIZ over portions of the South China Sea as a provocative and destabilizing act," Kerry said Sunday.

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China is also being met with opposition from Taiwan regarding the potential ADIZ designation.

RELATED President Obama at G7 summit: North Korea is 'big worry' for all

Taiwanese Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan said Monday Taiwan would not recognize any ADIZ designation unilaterally declared by Beijing.

Taiwan will not comply with the ADIZ requirement for flights to identify themselves in that airspace, Feng said at a legislative hearing in Taipei on Monday.

In Singapore on Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter had said Beijing is "erecting a Great Wall of self-isolation," referring to the militarization of South China Sea islands.

China's Adm. Sun Jianguo of the People's Liberation Army challenged the claim.

"We were not isolated in the past, we are not isolated now, we will not be isolated in the future," Sun said in Singapore.

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