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(LEAD) U.S. calls for S. Korea to speak out against China's behavior in South China Sea

2015/06/04 06:48

WASHINGTON, June 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea should speak out against China's forceful assertion of its territorial claims in the South China Sea as it is a major stakeholder in the international order in which it thrived, a senior U.S. diplomat said Wednesday.

Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel made the remark during a seminar on Korea, denouncing the land reclamation projects that Beijing has been carrying out in an apparent effort to bolster its territorial claims in the waters also claimed by countries like the Philippines and Vietnam.

"The role for the Republic of Korea is the role of a major stakeholder in the international order. It's the role of a country of laws. It's the role of a trading nation. It's a role of a country that has flourished under the international system," Russel said during the seminar co-sponsored by Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Korea Foundation.

"The fact that, like the United States, the Republic of Korea is not a claimant, in my view, gives Seoul all the more reason to speak out because it is speaking not in self-interest, but speaking in support of universal principles and the rule of law," he said.

It was the first time that a senior American official has publicly asked South Korea to play a role in the territorial dispute. The remark came ahead of a visit to Washington by South Korean President Park Geun-hye later this month.

Russel said China's behavior raises the question of "what kind of a power does China seek to become?"

   "For China to assert its claims through large-scale land reclamation, through the deployment of paramilitary forces or military forces that its neighbors see as threatening, is inconsistent with the kind of region that you and I want to live in," Russel said.

China should abide by the international order because it is the "framework in which China has grown and prospered," he said, adding, "That's the framework in which the Republic of Korea has prospered. That's the framework in which we want to see the disputes in the South China Sea addressed and resolved."

   jschang@yna.co.kr

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