Washington: The Pentagon today asked China to stop its unilateral and destabilising actions such as land reclamations by creating artificial islands to ease tension in the busy South China Sea, saying the US "shares an interest with the region."
"China's stated intentions with its programme, and continued construction, will not reduce tensions or lead to a meaningful diplomatic solution," Department of Defence spokesman Bill Urban said.
"We continue to impress upon China, as we do with all claimants, that the only way to ease tensions is to stop unilateral, destabilising actions," he said.
Urban said the US believes that a permanent, reciprocal halt among claimants to land reclamation, new construction, and further militarisation of outposts would ease tensions and create space for diplomatic solutions.
"We share an interest with the region in maintaining regional stability and upholding the existing rules-based order. In that spirit, we encourage all claimant states to take concrete steps to reduce tensions in the South China Sea," Urban said.
"We note China's August statement that it has halted its reclamation. At the same time, China has also stated its intent to further construct facilities, including for the purpose of military defence," he said.
"It's not clear to us that they've stopped, and we will continue to watch that situation very closely and engage with the Chinese, as we have in the recent past, on the subject," he added.
China claims most of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, through which USD 5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.
Urban said the Department of Defence is continuing to execute its multifaceted strategy to achieve its objectives in maritime Asia -- which fits into the larger US strategy for the region -- and was laid out in detail in the recently released Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy report.