July 14, 2020 / 2:43 PM / 25 days ago

U.S. says room for sanctions in response to China in South China Sea

FILE PHOTO: David Stilwell, U.S. Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, answers reporters' questions at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, November 6, 2019. REUTERS/Heo Ran/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. diplomat for East Asia said on Tuesday that the United States could respond with sanctions against Chinese officials and enterprises involved in coercion in the South China Sea.

“Nothing is off the table ... there is room for that,” David Stilwell, the assistant secretary for East Asia, told a Washington think tank when asked if sanctions were a possible U.S. response to Chinese actions.

Stilwell spoke a day after the United States rejected China’s claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea as “completely unlawful,” a stance Beijing said raised tensions in the region. [nL2N2EK1IX]

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and David Brunnstrom

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