| BEIJING, Sept 5
BEIJING, Sept 5 China's top state newspaper
warned the visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on
Wednesday not to seek advantage from tensions in the South China
Sea, ahead of talks likely to focus territorial disputes and
other sources of discord.
Beijing and Washington have both stressed hopes for steady
ties, especially as they confront domestic political hurdles.
But the tensions in the South China Sea have emerged as a
persistent irritant, reflecting suspicions in Beijing that the
Obama administration is seeking to rein in Chinese influence.
The international edition of state mouthpiece the People's
Daily aired those concerns ahead of Clinton's meetings with
Chinese President Hu Jintao and other senior leaders, and
suggested the United States is seeking to gain leverage from
China's tensions with Japan and Southeast Asian countries.
"The United States' recent conduct concerning the Diaoyu
islands and South China Sea issues cannot but create the
suspicion that it is attempting to sow discord in order to fish
for advantage," said a front-page commentary in the paper, which
broadly reflects official thinking.
"In the long term, this kind of adjustment in the United
States' Asia-Pacific strategy will not bring gains, and could
even backfire," it said.
The uninhabited Diaoyu islands -- called Senkaku in Japan --
have been a source of friction between Beijing and Tokyo, which
have rival territorial claims to the islets and surrounding
fishing areas and potentially rich gas deposits.
On Wednesday, Japanese media reported the Japanese
government planned to buy the islets from their private Japanese
owners, a move likely to fuel tensions between Asia's two
China's claims over much the South China Sea, including the
Spratly and Paracel islands, have put it at loggerheads with
Vietnam, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.
China's ruling Communist Party is preoccupied with a
once-in-a-decade leadership over coming months, while President
Barack Obama is focused on a re-election fight.
In Jakarta on Monday, Clinton urged China and Southeast
Asian nations to move quickly on a code of conduct for the South
China Sea and stressed that disputes should be resolved "without
coercion, without intimidation, without threats and certainly
without the use of force"..
China has been irked by the U.S.-backed proposals for a
multilateral approach to managing and eventually resolving the
South China Sea disputes, preferring to negotiate separately
with each of the far less powerful Asian claimants.
On Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei
suggested that Washington had not been a helpful force in the
maritime disputes, indicating that Clinton may face some
resistance in her talks with President Hu, Foreign Minister Yang
Jiechi, and other senior officials.
But both sides have also stressed their hopes for fruitful
talks. The Obama administration wants greater Chinese
cooperation on other international problems, including reining
in the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programmes, and the
finding a solution to the Syria crisis.
In brief public remarks after her arrival on Tuesday night,
Clinton called the U.S.-China relationship crucial to the Obama
administration's "pivot" to more engagement with the