WASHINGTON, May 20 -- Washington's rebalancing to Asia policy may need some "rebalancing" so that the United States can maintain a good relationship with every nation in the region, China's ambassador here said Tuesday.
In an exclusive interview with U.S. news broadcaster CNN, Cui Tiankai commented on the recent visit to Asia by U.S. President Barack Obama designed to reassure U.S. allies about Washington's commitment.
"I'm not questioning the intention of the U.S. government," Cui told CNN host Christiane Amanpour. "I'm looking at the effect, the results of the U.S. policies toward Asia, toward China and what they have done and said recently."
"And honestly, I think the key to this rebalancing is to maintain a good relationship with everybody in Asia Pacific, including particularly China. And in this sense, I think this policy of rebalancing might need some rebalancing itself," the Chinese envoy added.
Obama visited Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines in late April, in a bid to re-emphasize his rebalancing policy after the crisis in Ukraine raised doubts among U.S. allies in Asia about U.S. security promises.
Responding to Obama's remarks that the U.S.-Japan security treaty covers the Diaoyu Islands, which are at the center of a China-Japan dispute in East China Sea, Cui said China "has the sovereign right to defend its territorial integrity."
"The Diaoyu Islands," Cui said, "they are always part of Chinese heritage. This is quite clear. And we have maintained this position all along."
While expressing his concern that the dispute could lead to conflict, Cui stressed that China opposes any conflict over the issue. But in order to resolve the dispute, Cui said, "other people have to have the same constructive attitude and policy."
On the recent anti-foreign violence in Vietnam, which came after Vietnamese vessels repeatedly disturbed China's deployment of an oil rig in undisputed waters in South China Sea, Cui pointed out that the Chinese side is "operating only 17 nautical miles off a Chinese island, and it's 150 miles from the Vietnamese coast."
The ambassador also noted that this is China's only oil drilling operation in the area, while Vietnam conducts more than 30 drilling operations, all in disputed areas.
Besides, China has only civilian and government ships in the area while Vietnam has sent out armed military vessels, Cui added.