Asia

Kerry says US neutral on SCS, wants China to follow laws

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks to Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-U.S. Foreign Ministers Meeting in Vientiane, Laos, Monday, July 25, 2016. Southeast Asia's main grouping made a last-ditch attempt to reach a consensus on countering China's territorial expansion in the South China Sea, but their deadlock appeared far from being resolved as minutes ticked by before a critical meeting with the Chinese foreign minister Monday. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks to Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-U.S. Foreign Ministers Meeting in Vientiane, Laos, Monday, July 25, 2016. Southeast Asia's main grouping made a last-ditch attempt to reach a consensus on countering China's territorial expansion in the South China Sea, but their deadlock appeared far from being resolved as minutes ticked by before a critical meeting with the Chinese foreign minister Monday. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)  (The Associated Press)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States has no position in China's disputes with Southeast Asian nations in South China Sea, but only wants all parties to follow the rule of law and settle their differences peacefully.

He said Tuesday that a recent international tribunal's decision on a case brought by the Philippines against China — which went against Beijing — is final and binding and based on international law.

"We absolutely support rule of law, the legal process and diplomacy," Kerry told reporters ahead of a regional security conference being hosted by Laos.

China, which also is attending the conference, has rejected The Hague-based tribunal's decision, saying it has a historical claim over most of South China Sea. It says all disputes should be resolved bilaterally.