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US Pressures South Korea to Speak Out Against Dispute in South China Sea

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US diplomat Daniel Russel made a remark calling on South Korea to speak up against China’s activities in the South China Sea.

 A US diplomat called on South Korea to speak up regarding the dispute in the South China Sea.

Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel made the remark Wednesday during a seminar on Korea, denouncing China’s activities in the South China Sea.

“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, media reported.

Critics say that Russel’s comments are putting pressure on South Korea ahead of summit talks between President Park Geun-hye and US President Barack Obama in Washington later this month.

The United States has repeatedly expressed concern over China’s growing assertiveness in the region, specifically the reclamation of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, an area subject to overlapping territorial claims from Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

China on the other hand has repeatedly stressed that it has always adhered to the principles of international law and that the country is not going to harm other states.

West London Reef is pictured in the South China Sea in 2015, in this handout photo provided by CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe
Beijing has insisted that the majority of the islands in this part of the Pacific Ocean are its sovereign territory. The authorities have defended the construction in the Spratly region as a legal and peaceful endeavor that will improve security in the region to the benefit of all.

China has also warned that Washington’s meddling in the Asia-Pacific might upset regional stability.

Regarding South Korea’s involvement in the situation, the country’s ministry official stressed that South Korea remains neutral about the matter for now.