Washington: Welcoming the rise of China, the White House has said that the new status for the Communist giant comes with important responsibilities like upholding an international order that benefits big countries.
White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, told reporters on Wednesday at his daily news conference.
"We welcome that rise of China. However, that rising status comes with important responsibilities. Those responsibilities are to uphold an international order that benefits big countries," he said.
China has a growing economy, he said, adding, Beijing is interested in protecting the free flow of commerce in the South China Sea.
"And it's those mutual interests that we hope will allow for an effective diplomatic resolution to the tensions in that region of the world," he said.
"And what we believe is important is that it's important for big countries to essentially not bully smaller countries over those territorial claims; that that is counterproductive and is not consistent with the kinds of international norms that are, frankly, most in the interest of big countries," Earnest said.
Responding to questions, the White House spokesman reiterated that the US does not make any territorial claims in the South China Sea.
"Rather, what we insist on is that rules related to the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in international waters is an important principle," he said.
"It's an important principle primarily because in the South China Sea we're talking about a region of the world where a significant portion of the world's commerce flows.
"And we want to make sure that commerce can continue unimpeded, and it's why we have encouraged those that do have territorial claims in the South China Sea to resolve their differences," Earnest said.
It's not uncommon for the Department of Defense to conduct freedom of navigation operations to challenge excessive maritime claims on a regular basis around the world, he said.
And just last year, for example, the Department of Defense challenged the excessive maritime claims of 18 different nations.
These are nations ranging from Iran, with whom we obviously have a pretty contentious relationship, to countries closer to home like Nicaragua and Brazil, he said.
A specific challenge to the freedom of navigation is something that can be as simple as a single ship or an aircraft traversing the area subject to the excessive claim without notifying the nation or asking permission for the transit, primarily because that transit would occur in international waters, Earnest said.