ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska — Secretary of State John F. Kerry is headed to Beijing this week to press China on its expanding territorial claims. The Obama administration sharpened its position on the issue last week, saying Beijing’s attempt to base its claims on historical maps — the so-called nine-dash line — doesn’t square with international law.
China’s claims on land, water and airspace have heightened tensions with its neighbors, including Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines. A senior administration official traveling with Kerry said Wednesday that Washington doesn’t take a position on the legitimacy of the claims themselves. But he said the administration wants China to explain its claims “in a manner consistent with international law.”