US senators testified before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations about the East Sea situation on May 13, expressing deep concern over China’s massive land reclamation on reef islands in the East Sea.

Assistant Secretary of State in charge of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel said that China’s land reclamation activities are escalating tensions throughout the region, and “cannot manufacture sovereignty” in the disputed waters.

When being questioned on the US’s solutions to ensuring peace and stability in the East Sea, the official confirmed that the US will play an active role in the East Sea to defend its national interests and international legal principles.

The country defends “the use of legal dispute settlement mechanisms that may be available to countries, including arbitration under the Law of the Sea Convention,” Russel stated.

The Obama administration is calling for restraint in territorial disputes, he said, affirming that “diplomacy will continue to be our instrument of first resort” in this issue.

“By promoting order in the seas, international law has been instrumental in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of all countries regardless of size or military strength,” noted Russel.

Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs David Shear declined to comment on Washington’s consideration to send US Navy’s ships and aircraft within 12 nautical miles of reefs that China has been building in Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago, which was mentioned in the Wall Street Daily newspaper on May 12.

However, he affirmed that the US Navy has the right of innocent passage in such areas and can exercise that right both in the East Sea and over the globe, under the surface of the water and in the air.

Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Bob Corker stated that the Obama administration lacks a “coherent policy” in the East Sea.

The testimony occurred before Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Beijing at the end of this week, where he is scheduled to meet with President Xi Jinping.-VNA