US and China in last-ditch phone call to avoid South China Sea conflict

The Pentagon confirmed the conversation between the two sides “affirmed the principles and importance of constructive, stable and result-oriented defence relationship between the United States and China”.

A new “crisis communications” mechanism has been set up to avoid sudden armed escalation in the South China Sea.

The Pentagon added: “We expressed concerns about the Chinese military’s destabilising activity in the vicinity of Taiwan and the South China Sea.

“We also called on China to honour international obligations.”

Other security issues were discussed such as the coronavirus pandemic as an obstacle to ensuring a thaw in US and China relations.

Tensions have been stoked in the last few weeks with the deployment of two US aircraft carriers in the South China Sea.

The Chinese side informed the US that this move was a violation of its territorial rights in the maritime region.

The US has insisted the area is open international waters.

READ: South China Sea row: China plots NEW amphibious assault ship

China raised concerns the Trump administration was targeting Beijing as the cause of the pandemic in order to aid their election strategy.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and his Chinese counterpart Defense Minister Wei Fenghe spoke together to try and deescalate tensions in the South China Sea region.

China’s Xinhua news agency said: “Wei expressed China’s principled position on the South China Sea, Taiwan, and the US’s ‘stigmatisation’ of China.

“Wei asked the US to stop its wrong words and deeds, strengthen maritime risk management and control, avoid dangerous actions that may heat up the situation, and maintain regional peace and stability.”

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