From Lalit K Jha Washington, May 14: The US has called for diplomatic approach among countries to resolve territorial claim disputes in South China Sea, citing the recent India-Bangladesh land swap deal.
"We have not witnessed another conflict like those in recent years, the increasing frequency of incidents in the South China Sea highlights the need for all countries to move quickly in finding peaceful, diplomatic approaches to address these disputes," Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel R Russel said yesterday.
There are instances throughout the region where neighbors have peacefully resolved differences over overlapping maritime zones, he told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.
"We know that this is possible. Recent examples include Indonesia's and the Philippines' successful conclusion of negotiations to delimit the boundary between their respective exclusive economic zones (EEZs), and India's and Bangladesh's move to accept the decision of an arbitral tribunal with regard to their overlapping EEZ in the Bay of Bengal," he said.
"There have also been instances where claimants have agreed to shelve the disputes and find peaceful ways to manage resources in contested areas. In its approach to the East China Sea, Taiwan forged a landmark fishing agreement with Japan through cooperative dispute resolution.
These examples should be emulated," Russel said. All disputes over claims in the South China Sea should be pursued, addressed, and resolved peacefully, he asserted. Claimants should use negotiations to try and resolve the competing sovereignty claims over land features and competing claims to maritime resources. However, the fact remains that if every claimant continues to hold a position that their respective territorial and maritime claims are "indisputable", that leaves parties with very little room for compromise.
He said mutually agreeable solutions to jointly manage or exploit marine resources are more difficult to find if not all claimants are basing their claims on the Law of the Sea. Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, raised concerns about the US losing credibility in the Asia-Pacific by the Obama administration providing no effective deterrent to China's actions. "I see no price whatsoever that China is paying for their activities in the South and East China Seas. None... We're paying the price," he said.