June 1, 2015 / 7:57 PM / 2 years ago

Obama: land reclamation projects in South China Sea 'counterproductive'

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015.U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday that land reclamation projects in the South China Sea are unproductive and called for an end to aggressive action in the region.

"We think that land reclamation, aggressive actions by any party in that area are counterproductive," Obama said in a town-hall discussion at the White House with a group of young leaders from southeast Asian nations.

"China is going to be successful. It's big, it's powerful, its people are talented and they work hard. And it may be some of their claims are legitimate," Obama said.

"But they shouldn't just try to establish that based on throwing elbows and pushing people out of the way," he said.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Bill Trott

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