Watch: South China Sea doesn’t belong to any one nation, says Pence

Pence says South China Sea doesn’t belong to any one nation Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Singapore Nov 16, 2018, 11.11 AM (IST)

US Vice President Mike Pence said on Friday the South China Sea does not belong to any one nation and the United States will continue to sail and fly wherever international law allows, comments sure to rile China which claims the strategic sea route.

Pence spoke after his meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who greeted him with a welcome ceremony and had an orchid named after him and his wife Karen.

The United States has conducted a series of "freedom of navigation" exercises in the contested South China Sea, angering Beijing, which says the moves threaten its sovereignty.

China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, all have claims in the South China Sea, through which some $3 trillion of ship-borne trade passes each year.

Pence on Thursday told leaders of Southeast Asian nations on there was no place for "empire and aggression" in the Indo-Pacific region, a comment that could be interpreted as a reference to China's rise.

Story highlights

Pence spoke after his meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who greeted him with a welcome ceremony and had an orchid named after him and his wife Karen.