BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday that the United States should adopt a “fair” attitude on the East and South China Seas, where China is involved in a series of increasingly bitter territorial disputes.
“On the issues of the East and South China Sea, the U.S. side ought to adopt an objective and fair attitude, distinguish right from wrong, and do more to push for an appropriate resolution and improve the situation,” state news agency Xinhua cited Xi as saying. It provided no other details.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in the Netherlands, where their talks also took in the situation in Ukraine, North Korea and military-to-military cooperation.
China is in an often angry dispute with some of its neighbors, especially Vietnam and the Philippines, over claims to parts of the potentially oil and gas-rich South China Sea. China lays claim to almost the whole of the sea, which is criss-crossed by crucial shipping lanes.
China has a separate dispute with Japan in the East China Sea over a group of uninhabited islets.
China has repeatedly urged the United States not to take sides in any of these disputes, and has watched warily as Washington moves to strengthen its military alliances in the region, especially with Tokyo and Manila.
Xi added that he hoped China and the United States deepened their military cooperation and carried out more joint exercises, to help “prevent misunderstandings and miscalculations”.
China’s Foreign Ministry said the two leaders reached 10 agreements, including one to form rules for safe maritime and airspace military actions in international waters, the official China Daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The risks of a mishap in the region were highlighted in December when the guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens had to take evasive action in the South China Sea to avoid hitting a Chinese warship operating in support of Beijing’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard, additional reporting by Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Mark Heinrich