News / Asia

Asia Military Tensions Addressed at Regional Naval Forum

Chinese navy officers (backs to camera) stand in formation as Pakistan naval frigate Shamsher arrives at a military port before a maritime drill during the Western Pacific Naval Symposium in Qingdao, Shandong province, April 20, 2014.
Chinese navy officers (backs to camera) stand in formation as Pakistan naval frigate Shamsher arrives at a military port before a maritime drill during the Western Pacific Naval Symposium in Qingdao, Shandong province, April 20, 2014.
VOA News
Delegates at a regional naval forum - including representatives of China, the United States, and Japan - have agreed on a set of rules meant to prevent accidents and miscommunication at sea.
 
The agreement was adopted by all 21 member nations during a meeting of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium, which opened Tuesday in the eastern Chinese port city of Qingdao.
 
Chinese Navy Commander Wu Shengli said he hopes the meeting will help reduce tensions among Asia-Pacific countries.
 
"We hope that we can increase understanding and trust among navy forces across the region and further promote pragmatic maritime cooperation and achieve expected goals through discussions at this year's symposium," said Wu.
 
Despite the focus on cooperation, the two-day symposium has been complicated by military friction between Beijing and its neighbors.
 
China refused to invite Japan to a multinational naval drill held during the forum. Japan's delegate also said there are no plans to meet one-on-one with his Chinese counterparts at the symposium.
 
Japan-China ties have been strained by a worsening dispute over territory in the East China Sea. Beijing is also upset over what it sees as Tokyo's reluctance to atone for abuses before and during World War II.
 
Many of China's other neighbors, especially those bordering the South China Sea, accuse Beijing of using bullying tactics to defend its vast, disputed maritime claims.
 
Small-scale clashes occasionally break out between surveillance or fishing vessels from various countries. Some fear the incidents could someday spark a wider military clash.
 
However, naval officers from China and the United States told Reuters the document was not meant to directly address problems, including territorial issues, pitting China against several of its neighbors in the East and South China Seas.
                  
The United States wants clearer operational communications with the growing Chinese fleet, arrangements in part hampered by different interpretations of what operations are acceptable in international waters, U.S. naval officers have said.
          
The risks of a mishap were highlighted in December when the U.S. guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens had to take evasive action in the South China Sea to avoid hitting a warship supporting China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
          
A late draft of the non-binding document, obtained by Reuters, is essentially a handbook for maneuvers and communication when naval ships and aircraft from the signing countries encounter each other unexpectedly.
          
Navies are told to fire off flares in green, yellow and red in different situations and given a list of English-language terms.
          
“The document is not legally binding, rather, it's a coordinated means of communication to maximize safety at sea,” the draft reads.
          
The final version has not been publicly released, but a naval official privy to the discussions said the language in the draft was close to what had been formally agreed upon.
          
The document defines “unplanned encounters” as when vessels from two countries meet “casually or unexpectedly.”
          
Assertive China stokes concerns
          
Beijing's increasingly assertive stance on maritime security in what it sees as its territorial waters has stoked concerns in the region, particularly as its military and civilian ships increase patrols in disputed areas.
          
Chinese and Japanese ships routinely shadow each other near a chain of disputed islets in the East China Sea, a development which analysts have said raises the risk of a conflict.
          
“The number of communications between the Japanese and Chinese defense forces is small,” said Japanese Navy Captain Masahiro Sakurai without elaborating.
          
The United States has long-standing defense treaties with Japan and the Philippines, raising the prospect of Washington being drawn into a potential conflict if a collision sparks wider tensions.
          
It is unclear whether this agreement clears up differences rooted in different interpretations of military activity.
          
Beijing has objected, for example, to U.S. surveillance operations near its coast, even if Washington insists they are in international waters.
          
Separately, China and the 10 countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are negotiating a binding Code of Conduct to ease tensions in the South China Sea before territorial disputes can be resolved.
          
The code extends far beyond improved communications, seeking to halt military exercises in disputed waters and limit construction on empty reefs and islands, diplomats say.

Some information in this report was contributed by Reuters.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid