Kerry: US needs 'constructive relationship' with China

A constructive relationship between the United States and China is needed for regional stability in the Pacific, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday in Honolulu. 

After an eight-day trip to Asia, Kerry emphasized that, despite tensions concerning claims to the South China Sea, the U.S. should focus on strengthening its relationship with China.

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“The president has been clear, as have I, that we are committed to avoiding the trap of strategic rivalry and intent on forging a relationship in which we can broaden our cooperation on common interests and constructively manage our differences and disagreements,” he said in his speech. 

Kerry commented on China’s provocative actions in the South China Sea, which other countries also claim. China recently announced plans to build lighthouses on several islands and last year declared a self-imposed Air Defense Zone over the waters.

“I want to be absolutely clear: The United States of America takes no position on questions of sovereignty in the South and East China Sea, but we do care about how those questions are resolved. We care about behavior. We firmly oppose the use of intimidation and coercion or force to assert a territorial claim by anyone in the region,” Kerry said. 

The secretary said all countries should resolve their claims to the sea through peaceful means. He also praised China for cooperating with the U.S. on other diplomatic issues. 

“I am very pleased that China and the United States are cooperating effectively on the Iran nuclear talks and we’ve increased our dialogue on [North Korea],” he said. “We’re also cooperating significantly on climate change possibilities, counter-piracy operations, and South Sudan."