Beijing tones down its rhetoric in aftermath of Obama's Asia tour pronouncements

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By Willy Lam,

The Chinese Communist Party leadership has toned down its aggressive rhetoric regarding the South China Sea in an apparent effort to blunt the growth of Washington’s “anti-China containment policy.”

Indonesia has accepted an offer from the U.S. to buy 24 used F-16 fighter jets to improve the strength of its Air Force.

During his recent tour of Hawaii, Australia and Indonesia, President Barack Obama gave indirect support to the claims of several Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members to islets in the South China Sea, almost all of which Beijing claims are its territory.

Apart from moral support for attempts by the Philippines to “internationalize” the South China Sea issue, Obama finalized the sale of 24 F-16 jetfighters to Indonesia in addition to getting Canberra’s approval for stationing up to 2,500 U.S. Marines in the northern Australia port of Darwin.

At the ASEAN East Asia Summit in Bali last week, senior Chinese leaders seemed to be playing up the possibilities of win-win scenarios. In his ASEAN speech, Premier Wen Jiabao indicated that Beijing would stick to the principle of “friendly negotiation and consultation in a peaceful way” to resolve South China Sea disputes. He reiterated China’s commitment to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), which Beijing concluded with ASEAN in 2002.

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