By Patricia Lourdes Viray
MANILA, Philippines — Australia and the United States accused China of using its economic power to evade issues such as the dispute over the South China Sea and the tension in the Korean Peninsula.
The two countries reiterated its opposition against China's construction of artificial islands and militarization of features in the Spratly Islands, which are similarly claimed by the Philippines, a longstanding US ally.
"We desire productive relationships, but we cannot allow China to use its economic power to buy its way out of other problems, whether its militarizing islands in the South China Sea or failing to put appropriate pressure on North Korea," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a joint statement.
The 2016 award issued by an international arbitral tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the useful basis to peacefully resolve the sea dispute, the two officials said.
The statement, among the strongest yet under new US President Donald Trump, was issued after the annual Australia-US Ministerial consultations in Sydney.
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