NUSA DUA, Indonesia |
(Reuters) - Tension between the United States and China spilled over into meetings of Asia-Pacific leaders on Friday as the two countries jostled over how to handle competing claims to the South China Sea.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said "outside forces" had no excuse to get involved in the complex maritime dispute, a veiled warning to the United States and other countries to keep out of the sensitive issue.
"It ought to be resolved through friendly consultations and discussions by countries directly involved. Outside forces should not, under any pretext, get involved," Wen told a meeting with Southeast Asian leaders, several of whose countries claim sovereignty to parts of the South China Sea.
The speech transcript was carried on the Chinese Foreign Ministry's website (www.mfa.gov.cn).
The remark is the latest barb between the two countries in recent weeks, and comes as President Barack Obama has sought to reassert U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific to counter the growing influence of the world's second-largest economy, China.
Obama said in Australia on Thursday, on his last stop before jetting to the Asia meetings in neighboring Indonesia, that the U.S. military would expand its Asia-Pacific role, declaring America was "here to stay" as a Pacific power.
Days earlier, as host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-Operation forum in Hawaii, Obama had voiced frustration at China's trade practices and he pushed for a new Asia-Pacific trade deal with some of Beijing's neighbors.
The moves are seen as an attempt to reassert U.S. leadership in the face of China's rising influence around the Pacific Rim and reassure allies such as South Korea and Japan that it would remain a strong counterweight.
To Read more of the article at: www.reuters.com