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The Chinese military exercises are being conducted not far from joint U.S.-Japan military exercises that ended last week and involved some 47,000 personnel near the Senkaku Islands, which are claimed by China near Okinawa. China calls the islands the Diayoutao.

China this week pressured leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, not to hold international discussions on South China Sea disputes with China.

Beijing is opposing ASEAN’s efforts to reach a binding agreement on a code of conduct in the South China Sea, where China recently claimed up to 70 percent of the international waters as its maritime territory.

Ben Rhodes, deputy White House national security adviser, said the sea dispute should be settled peacefully. The issue was to be raised in a meeting between President Obama and outgoing Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Mr. Rhodes said.

He said the disputes such as those regarding the South China Sea “need to be discussed in a multilateral context so that we can reaffirm the principles of maritime security that can guide the resolution to something like the South China Sea.”

“The U.S. believes that any solution has to be consistent with international law, has to preserve the free flow of commerce that is important not just to the countries in this region, but to the world,” Mr. Rhodes told reporters.

“The U.S. is not a claimant in the South China Sea, but we have significant interest there, given its role in the global economy.”