02/06/2014, 00.00
ASIA - UNITED STATES
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Washington to Beijing: Modify South China Sea claims

A senior U.S. government official calls on the Chinese government to cooperate on a "peaceful solution" to tensions in the Asia-Pacific region. The Chinese government claims are a source of "growing concern" and nurture "uncertainty." U.S. experts: Beijing’s aggressiveness fueled by a "sense of destiny" in history and on world stage.

Beijing ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - A senior U.S. official is calling on Beijing to "clarify" or "modify" its territorial claims in the South China Sea, an area long been the center of a dispute with several other nations in the Asia-Pacific region . Washington calls for a "peaceful solution" to the tensions in one of the hottest and most controversial areas of the entire Asian continent, as established by international law. Daniel Russell, an expert on East Asia for the Secretary of State criticizes Beijing for the so-called "nine-dash line" which delineates the possessions of China in the area and does not hide "growing concern" for the "pattern of behavoir" adopted so far. "Any Chinese claim - said the U.S. diplomat -to maritime rights not based on claimed land features would be inconsistent with international law."

Daniel Russel also supports the action of the Philippines, which has decided to refer the matter to the attention of a United Nations tribunal, a move made ​​last year and that sparked harsh reactions in China to find a "peaceful and non-coercive" solution. Beijing lacks "clarity ," said the senior U.S. official , and feeds "uncertainty" in the region and heavy "limits" in an attempt to find a common response.

The position taken by Washington is a sign of a growing interventionism of the United States in the dispute involving the South China Sea, closer to countries such as the Philippines (or Japan in the East China Sea , another " hot" front in the region ) in opposition - if not open conflict - with Beijing. However, while supporting a close military cooperation with Tokyo and Manila , the U.S. State Department has always claimed it does not want to take sides in the dispute over territorial sovereignty in this strategic point of Asia , the hub of commerce and rich in raw materials .

On the other hand, this has not stopped Beijing stepping up its territorial claims and attacking those who openly criticize its policy. Yesterday, the official Xinhua news agency branded Philippine President Benigno Aquino as "unfortunate " and called him "an amateurish politician who was ignorant both of history and reality" . The harshest response to date by the Beijing agency was to Manila allegations equating China to Nazi Germany for territorial claims in Europe before the Second World War.

Moreover, even analysts and international policy experts talk about "sense of destiny" behind the aggressive attitude of Beijing in territorial disputes, particularly those that relate to the East China Sea . The judgment comes from James Clapper, director of U.S. intelligence, according to whom China is behind an impressive acceleration in the arms race , in response to U.S. power . Beijing has a precise and "aggressive" idea of its "destiny" in history and on the world stage, adds Clapper, who did not exclude that the tensions could lead to a large-scale conflict in the not too distant future.

In the East China Sea, China and Japan have been embroiled in a long-standing dispute over sovereignty of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. In the South China Sea, China and the Philippines have also been involved in a similar dispute over the Scarborough Shoal. In the same area, Beijing also claims sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel Islands, which are equally claimed by Vietnam, Brunei, Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan. The islands are mostly uninhabited but rich in natural resources and raw materials. Hegemony in such an area is crucial for trade and seabed oil and natural gas development. Also, about two thirds of the world's maritime trade transit through it.

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