Honolulu: Improving US cooperation with China is critical to maintaining stability and security in the Asia-Pacific as well as combating the effects climate change, US Secretary of State John Kerry said.
Wrapping up an eight-day, around-the-world diplomatic trip and his sixth visit to Asia as America`s top diplomat, Kerry yesterday outlined renewed priorities for much of the Obama administration`s much-touted "pivot to Asia" during its final two-and-a-half years, including a focus on strengthening US-Chinese partnership in areas of agreement and bridging gaps in areas of contention.
"One thing I know will contribute to maintaining regional peace and stability is a constructive relationship between the United States and China," Kerry said in an address to the East-West Center think tank in Honolulu.
"The United States welcomes the rise of a peaceful, prosperous and stable China: one that plays a responsible role in Asia and the world and supports rules and norms on economic and security issues."
"We are committed to avoiding the trap of strategic rivalry and intent on forging a relationship in which we broaden our cooperation on common interests and constructively manage our differences and disagreements," he said.
Kerry arrived in Hawaii after stops in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Australia and the Solomon Islands during which tensions between China and its smaller neighbors over competing territorial claims in the South China Sea were a major subject of discussion.
At a Southeast Asia regional security forum in Myanmar over the weekend, Kerry formally unveiled a US Proposal for a voluntary freeze on provocative actions by all claimants, including the Chinese.
The US says that it has no position on the competing claims but does regard stability in the South China Sea as a national security issue, given the region`s role as one of the world`s busiest maritime shipping zones.
"We do care about how those questions are resolved, we care about behaviour," Kerry said.
"We firmly oppose the use of intimidation, coercion or force to assert a territorial or maritime claim by anyone. And we firmly oppose any suggestion that freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea and airspace are privileges granted by big states to small ones. All claimants must work together to solve the claims through peaceful means. These principles bind all nations equally, and all nations have a responsibility to uphold them."