Japan Asia Disputed Islands

China's Jiangkai-I class frigate vessel. Pic: AP.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior U.S. official says China’s coercive efforts to enforce its territorial claims in disputed waters are not just raising tensions but damaging its international standing.

Top diplomat for East Asia, Daniel Russel, was speaking at a congressional hearing Wednesday, two weeks ahead of high-level talks between the two global powers in Beijing.

Russel said Washington wanted to build “strategic trust” with Beijing and economic cooperation, but would also push for the release of political prisoners.

Russel criticized China’s recent actions in the East and South China Seas which he said had left its neighbors “understandably alarmed.”

China is locked in a standoff with Vietnam after deploying oil rigs in waters claimed by nations, and has running territorial disputes with U.S. treaty allies, Japan and the Philippines.