China will “pressure” the United States on maritime issues at talks in Beijing next week because of Chinese concern about an increased U.S. military presence in the disputed South China Sea, a major state-run newspaper said on Tuesday.
China has been angered by what it views as provocative U.S. military patrols close to islands China controls in the South China Sea. The United States says the patrols are to protect freedom of navigation.
“Beijing will pressure Washington over maritime issues during the upcoming Strategic and Economic Dialogue, as the United States’ increasing military presence in the South China Sea is among China’s major concerns,” the official China Daily said, citing unidentified officials.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.
This month, Beijing demanded an end to U.S. surveillance near China after two Chinese fighter jets carried out what the Pentagon said was an “unsafe” intercept of a U.S. military reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea.
The South China Sea is also likely to feature at a June 3-5 security forum in Singapore known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.
China’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday that Admiral Sun Jianguo, a deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission, would lead China’s delegation at the Singapore talks.
At the Beijing talks with the United States, which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will attend, other issues will also be on the table.
China will bring up the issue of self-ruled Taiwan – claimed by Beijing but which elected a pro-independence party to power in January – as well as the situation on the Korean peninsula, the China Daily added.
“The two countries have differing pursuits on major issues at the strategic level. However, the two still have many common interests,” the paper said.
“Whether it is on the South China Sea issue or on the Korean Peninsula issue, the two countries have a shared security goal to maintain regional stability,” it added.
The newspaper did not elaborate.
China is reclusive North Korea’s only major ally but has been angered by Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests and signed up to tough U.N. sanctions against it in March.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Robert Birsel)