U.S., China face off over sea dispute

(Reuters) – The United States and China faced off on Saturday over the thorny issue of how to resolve competing claims by Asian countries to sovereignty of the South China Sea, the latest point of friction between the two powers.

President Barack Obama told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who indirectly warned Washington on Friday to stay out of the dispute, that the United States wanted to ensure the sea lanes were kept open and peaceful.

Tensions flared earlier this year with often tense maritime stand-offs between claimants, including China, to a sea that carries some $5 trillion a year in world trade. An Australian think tank warned in June the tensions could spark a conflict that could draw in the United States and other powers.

The two leaders met on the resort island of Bali, Indonesia, on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit, a gathering of 18 countries with diverse political and cultural backgrounds but which seeks to boost political and security cooperation.

via U.S., China face off over sea dispute | Reuters.

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