The US has strongly refuted the Chinese claim that what it is doing in the disputed South China Sea is akin to the US' deploying of defence facilities in Hawaii, saying no other country has a claim on Hawaii.
"There is no other country that has a claim on Hawaii. But yet when you consider the land features in the South China Sea, there are a variety of overlapping territorial claims that a variety of countries have made on those features," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said yesterday.
Earnest's remarks came in response to Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying who yesterday said China was doing in the South China Sea what the US does in Hawaii.
"China deploying necessary national defence facilities on its own territory is no different from the US deploying defence facilities on Hawaii," Hua said.
Recognising that Chinese government may have disagreement about the claims made by other countries, Earnest said that is precisely the reason the US believes all the parties should resolve their differences about this matter in a way that does not provoke a military confrontation.
"That is why we have urged all parties who are claimants to these features - the US is not among them, we've encouraged all of the countries that do have claims to resolve them in a peaceful, legal manner and to avoid confrontation and to seek to avoid escalating the tensions in that area of the world," Earnest said.
Noting that America hoped that tensions in that part of the world would be reduced, Earnest said they can be reduced if all of the claimants to the land features in the South China Sea make the same kind of commitment that was seen from the leaders of ASEAN in California just last week.
"In the context of the summit, the leaders of ASEAN committed to not building up a military presence on those features that are the subject of competing claims," he said.
"That is a responsible way to resolve differences of opinion over those features, and we certainly would urge the Chinese and every other country that has a competing claim here to abide by that standard," Earnest said.