U.S. says will prevent China taking over territory in international waters

WASHINGTON, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump vowed on Monday that the United States would prevent China from taking over territory in international waters in the South China Sea.

“I think the U.S. is going to make sure that we protect our interests there,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a news briefing.

“It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.”

Spicer was responding to a question as to whether Trump agreed with comments by his Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson, last week that China should not be allowed access to islands it has built in the contested South China Sea.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick