US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will tell her Asian counterparts on Saturday the United States has a “strategic stake” in the West Philippine Sea also known as South China Sea, an official travelling with her said.
The official said Clinton would make a “very detailed statement” at a regional security summit in Indonesia about the importance of the West Philippine Sea to American and global commerce.
“We have a strategic stake in how issues there are managed,” the official said, citing comments Clinton was preparing to make in her speech to the ASEAN Regional Forum on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.
She would highlight the importance of “freedom of navigation”, “unimpeded legal commerce” and “the maintenance of peace and stability” in the West Philippine Sea according to the official.
Clinton’s comments will likely irk China, which has long insisted the United States has no role to play in its increasingly tense disputes with rival claimants to the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims with China to all or parts of the West Philippine Sea, believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits and home to shipping lanes vital to global trade.
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