"The policy that's been in place in the Obama administration has been to not take sides in the competing land claims in the South China Sea. Certainly, the United States doesn't have any claims to any territory in that region of the world," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference.
"What we have suggested is that those with competing claims should seek to resolve those competing claims not through brute force or through intimidation or coercion, but rather, through diplomacy and negotiation," Earnest said.
The outgoing White House Press Secretary was responding to a question on official Chinese media warning of a war with the US if it was denied access to its artificial islands in the South China Sea, as being pitched by cabinet nominees of the incoming Trump administration.
"I don't know whether or not that will be the policy of the incoming administration. I assume that'll be one of the topics that will be covered in the first briefing that you guys have in here with my successor. But that's the policy that's been in place in this administration," Earnest said.
"We have been operating in the South China Sea and the Asia Pacific for decades, the US military has. We continue to believe that these disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved in a peaceful fashion through dialogue and through diplomacy," Pentagon Press Secretary, Peter Cook, told reporters at a news conference.
"There's been court rulings to this effect that are, of course, we think significant and should be abided by claimants there," he said adding that the US does not take sides in these disputes.
US Defense Secretary, Ashton Carter, he said has talked at length about a principled security network that is inclusive in the Asia-Pacific, inclusive to include China, should it be willing to abide by those principled rules that have allowed that part of the world to prosper and to flourish.
"We see that as an opportunity for all those participants and we will continue to fly, sail and operate everywhere international law allows, including in the South China Sea," he said.
"We call on all those claimants, all those who are part of these disputes to do what they can to reduce tensions there, including to refrain from any militarisation of those features, and we think that is a step that all those countries could take, China included," Cook said.