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Biden On Maritime Disputes


Indian Ocean - An armed suspected pirate in international waters off the coast of Somalia. (File)

The increase of maritime incidents in the South China Sea represent a threat to the security of the Asia-Pacific region.

“Economic growth rests upon a foundation of stability and security,” U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said recently in Singapore. “The Pacific is home of some of the world’s busiest sea lanes and shipping routes. The increase of maritime incidents and assertive actions . . . in the South China Sea represent a threat to the security of the Asia-Pacific region.”


Disputes, if left unaddressed, could become fault lines for future conflict.

“My dad . . . used to have an expression . . . the only conflict worse than one that is intended is one that is unintended. The prospect for miscalculation is real. It would not take much [for] an incident to escalate . . . into conflict,” the Vice President said.

“The only way to effectively manage and resolve . . . territorial disputes is through [a] peaceful diplomatic process that respects the rights of all claimants and is rooted in the foundations of international law. That means no intimidation, no coercion, no aggression, [and] no bellicose rhetoric. Any and all peaceful means for resolving these disputes should be available, including arbitration,” he continued.

“We want to see the mechanisms to manage these disputes in a more stable and predictable circumstance,” Vice President Biden emphasized. “That's why . . . we welcome ASEAN’s efforts to advance talks on a code of conduct, and we’re pleased by the recent moves to begin those consultations in the region . . . As we look ahead to the East Asia Summit [in Brunei] this year, all parties involved should be looking for a way to move quickly toward a substantive code [of conduct].”

“The United States has a deep stake in the . . . freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce, respect for international laws and norms, [and] the peaceful resolution of territorial disputes,” Vice President Biden said. “America has helped [to] create the conditions for security and stability that . . . has allowed the Asian-Pacific nations to turn their talents and intentions to the economic miracle that we witnessed the previous 60 years.”
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