(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 21, 2016, the guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) operates in the South China Sea as part of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). An American warship has sailed through waters off the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, in the latest implicit challenge to Beijing's sweeping territorial claims in the region, the Pentagon said Sunday, September 30, 2018. "Guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur conducted a freedom of navigation operation," an official told AFP. "Decatur sailed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands." The official said all US military operations in the area "are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows." The 12-mile distance is commonly accepted as constituting the territorial waters of a landmass. Beijing claims all of the Spratly chain.
Petty Officer 2ndClass Diana QUINLAN / Navy Media Content Operations / AFP
China, US need 'heart-to-heart' talk on South China Sea — Cayetano
Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) - October 5, 2018 - 5:04pm

MANILA, Philippines — Two of the world's powers need to sit down for a "heart-to-heart" discussion to settle their differences on the South China Sea issue, the Philippines' top diplomat said Friday.

This comment comes after a confrontation between American and Chinese warships in the Spratly Islands, where Beijing has built artificial islands and installed military facilities.

"So that's our point,in the West Philippine Sea, South China Sea, needs a heart-to-heart talk between regional and non-regional players and between the two superpowers," Cayetano said, referring to the US and China.

Cayetano reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte's policy that the Philippines wants to be "friends to everyone" but Washington and Beijing have their own rivalry.

"China has a different stand on the South China Sea, the US has a different stand, and the Philippines has a different stand. But the dynamics of the superpowers are different from that of the middle powers and countries who use soft power," the secretary said.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is working on handling the matter as a bloc by working on a legally binding Code of Conduct on the South China Sea.

Cayetano noted that about 40 percent of ASEAN member-states have overlapping claims while the remaining countries are non-claimants.

"We will continue to see these irritants and arguments and it will continue until the US and China sit down and regional players sit down," he said.

Earlier this week, American warship USS Decatur sailed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the South China Sea.

The US guided-missile destroyer was conducting a freedom of navigation operation in the area, challenging Beijing's territorial claims in the area.

China responded to this by sending its own warship within yards of the American destroyer.

According to US Navy Commander Nate Christenses, US Pacific Fleet spokesman, a Chinese Luyang destroyer approaced USS Decatur in "an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea" and conducted a series of "increasingly aggressive maneuvers, and warned the Decatur to depart the area."

ALAN PETER CAYETANO CHINA SOUTH CHINA SEA SPRATLY ISLANDS UNITED STATES USS DECATUR WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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