US Secretary of State John Kerry gets a thumbs up from a US Embassy employee after she corrected his pronunciation of a few words in Filipino during a visit to the Embassy in Manila yesterday.
MANILA: US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday played down tension with China over the East China Sea, saying US efforts to strengthen maritime security in South East Asia were part of a normal process to help allies defend themselves.
Kerry said maritime disputes between countries should be resolved peacefully through arbitration and the United States would speak out when a country, such as China, took unilateral action that raised the potential for conflict.
The United States has said it does not recognise an air defence zone imposed by Beijing amid friction with Japan over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
A day after the United States gave $32.5m to stiffen maritime security in South East Asia, the bulk of it for Vietnam, Kerry said the United States would provide $40m to the Philippines over three years to build its capacity to police the South China Sea.
“We don’t view the situation as one of rising tensions and we don’t want rising tensions,” Kerry told a news conference with his Philippine counterpart Albert del Rosario.
“What we are involved in are normal processes by which we work with other countries in order to raise their maritime protection capacity.”
Kerry said the United States had not taken a position on any claims by countries in disputed seas but did not agree with the way China has responded in the dispute with Japan.
“We are not approaching this with any particular view towards China, except to say when China makes a unilateral move, we will state our position and make clear what we agree and disagree with,” Kerry said.