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Free Access to South China Sea
« on: June 08, 2010, 03:12:20 PM »
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for free access to the resource-rich South China Sea saying Washington objected to any effort to “intimidate” US energy firms in the region.

Gates said the South China Sea was of “growing concern” due to territorial disputes that could pose a threat to free navigation and “economic development.”

In a veiled warning to China, Gates alluded to Beijing’s alleged threats against some US oil and gas companies interested in off-shore exploration in waters claimed by Vietnam.

“We object to any effort to intimidate US corporations or those of any nation engaged in legitimate economic activity,” Gates said in a speech at the Shangri-La security conference in Singapore.

A US State Department official told a congressional committee last July that China demanded some American and foreign energy firms halt projects with Vietnamese partners or face possible commercial retaliation in China. - AP

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