An intense rhetoric over the South China Sea had been discussed, overshadowing this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), recently held in Manila.
The annual summit is meant to establish unity among participating economies, but the talks were often diverted on China’s assertiveness and military aggression in the sea.
APEC members- the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have rival claims to parts of the sea, which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas resources.
These actions led for some nations who are part of the dispute to call for support from Washington.
Upon President Obama’s arrival on Tuesday, he announced that the US will be giving more than $250 million in maritime aid for their Southeast Asian allies. He also offered a warship to the Philippines.
On Wednesday, Obama repeated Washington’s demand for China to stop further land reclamation and militarization, shortly before the trade talks got underway.
“We discussed the impact of China’s land reclamation and construction activities on regional stability,” Obama told reporters after meeting Philippine President Benigno Aquino.
“We agree on the need for bold steps to lower tensions, including pledging to halt further reclamation, new construction, and militarization of disputed areas in the South China Sea.”
This week, Vietnam agreed to a strategic partnership with the Philippines to increase security ties in response to China’s aggression.
Vietnam also signed a strategic partnership this week in Manila with the Philippines, deepening security ties partly in response to Chinese assertiveness in the sea.