US President Barack Obama speaks during a bilateral press conference with the Philippines President Benigo Aquino (not in picture) at Malacanang Palace in Manila on April 28, 2014. Obama landed in the Philippines on April 28 to cement new defence ties on the last leg of an Asian tour conducted against a backdrop of territorial tensions between US allies and China. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Barack Obama

Washington, DC— United States President Barack Obama on Monday expressed his sentiments on South China Sea territorial disputes, urging countries involved specifically China, to respect the law and stop “throwing elbows” to a smaller neighbors.

As several Asian regional powers face off over maritime borders, Obama warned about disregard for existing laws and a move away from established ways of resolving disputes.

“If you start losing that approach, and suddenly conflicts arise and claims are made based on how big the country is or how powerful its navy is instead of based on law, then I think Asia will be less prosperous and the Pacific region will be less prosperous,” he said.

The United States  does not hold any territorial claims in the South China Sea but in order to ease tension as a “Pacific power” Washington has vocally called on China to stop and end its reclamation on the disputed region.

Obama said, “We think that land reclamation, aggressive actions by any party in that area are counterproductive.”

To protect freedom of flight and navigation, Obama’s administration has vowed to continue sending military aircraft and ships to the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea.

Turning to China directly, Obama adopted a boxing metaphor, saying “it may be that some of their claims are legitimate, but they shouldn’t just try to establish that based on throwing elbows and pushing people out of the way.”


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