Obama: S. China Sea Land Reclamation ‘Counterproductive’


President Barack Obama warned that Southeast Asia risks becoming less prosperous as countries in the region undertake land reclamation and assert sovereignty over parts of the disputed South China Sea.

Obama said that while some of China’s claims may turn out to be legitimate, it should stop “throwing elbows and pushing people out of the way” in pursuit of its interests.

Speaking to a gathering of young Southeast Asian leaders at the White House Monday, Obama said what has allowed the region to prosper in recent decades is relative peace and stability, including the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

“All of that is because there’ve been certain rules that everybody’s followed.  Freedom of navigation requires that people observe basic conduct about this far off your territory is your territory. After that, it’s international waters,” he said.

“If there’s a dispute, then there are international mechanisms to adjudicate that dispute. If you start losing that approach and, suddenly, conflicts arise and claims are made based on how big a country is and how powerful its navy is instead of based on law, then I think Asia will be less prosperous,” Obama added.


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