News / Asia

Australia Urged to Defuse South China Sea Tensions

In this photo taken on Friday, July 20, 2012, Chinese fishing boats sail in the lagoon of Meiji reef off the island province of Hainan in the South China Sea.
In this photo taken on Friday, July 20, 2012, Chinese fishing boats sail in the lagoon of Meiji reef off the island province of Hainan in the South China Sea.
Phil Mercer
SYDNEY — Australia has been urged to do more to help ease tensions in the South China Sea.   China and Vietnam disagree about territorial claims, while other countries, including the United States and the Philippines, have also been drawn into the long-running dispute.

Various nations have argued about territorial rights in the South China Sea for hundreds of years.  However, a recent upsurge in tension has raised concern that armed conflict could strike the volatile region.

China bases its claim on a large part of the South China Sea on 2,000 years of history, which it claims gives Beijing a compelling argument for controlling vast swathes of water.  Chinese officials argue that the Paracel and Spratly island chains were once important parts of the Chinese nation and could have rich reserves of fossil fuels.

However, Vietnam and the Philippines strongly refute China’s claim.

A Sydney-based think tank, the Lowy Institute, argues that recent tensions increase the chances of violence in the region.

Lowy Executive Director Michael Wesley says the disputes could have global implications.

"The first level is a set of territorial disputes between China and several Southeast Asian countries," he said. "The second level is a dispute between China and the United States over the conditions under which ships pass through this waterway, which conveys about a third of all global shipping.  And, I feel that there is a real chance that conflict could break out because of inexperienced maritime forces, with little or no mutual understandings of how to manage maritime incidents."  

Wesley is calling on Australia, which has strong military ties to the United States and an entrenched economic relationship with China, to do more to broker a deal in the South China Sea.

"Look, Australia really needs to be more concerned about this issue," he said.  "About 54 percent of Australia’s trade passes through the South China Sea, and really what is at stake for Australia here is the outcome of the standoff between China and the United States could have a real effect on the strategic balance of the Pacific Ocean.  So we have really big interests in this."  

Wesley says that maritime tensions pit communist China and Vietnam against one another, unite usual enemies China and Taiwan, and draw the United States back into partnership with Vietnam.

The regional political bloc ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is continuing to explore new ideas to resolve the dispute.

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Comment Sorting
by: Duong Van Minh from: VIETNAM
July 27, 2012 12:20 AM
To settle all disputes we must base on internaltional laws. China says it bases on the historical records of its past dynasties. Those records have never been accepted globally or confirmed independently so the past chinese dynasties must have framed up those records thousand years ago to create pretexts for invading foreign lands and seas! They were extremely warlike and greedy just like China today. If I told you that your house used to belong to my grandmother because he wrote that in his diary and then I expelled you out of your house and took it, what would you feel. China is doing exactly the same thing.

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
July 26, 2012 10:47 PM
Following World War II, Chinese exercise of sovereignty over the South China Sea region, the Spratly and Paracel archipelago and their adjacent waters was relatively uncontested. The United States and Spain had not included the Spratly Islands within the territorial limits of the Philippines in the Washington Treaty of 1898 and the Treaty of Paris in 1900. This understanding was reinforced by the 1973 Philippine Constitution, which followed the signing of the 1951 Philippine-US military alliance. In 1975, Vietnam explicitly recognized China's territorial sovereignty over The Spratly archipelago, and before December 1978 the Malaysian published continental shelf map did not include the reefs and waters of the Spratly archipelago in Malaysian territory.
In the 1970s however, the Philippines, Malaysia and other countries began referring to the Spratly Islands as included in their own territory. On June 11, 1978, President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines issued Presidential decree No. 1596, declaring the Spratly Islands (referred to therein as the Kalayaan Island Group) as Philippine territory.[6]-----wiki
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
July 27, 2012 10:40 AM
I can not comment for the Pilippines , nor Malaysia, they would be more knowledgeable on that aspect. However, I did not agree with you that Vietnam explicitly approved your aggression. Which Vietnam are you talking about?
South vietnam, whom you stole the islands from in January 1974 (no they did not approve yours thuggy behaviour)
You incited the brothers (south & north vietnamese to kill each others , with the excuse of fighting the imperialist americans, in order to prey on vietnamese ancestral land and islands, to decimate their population. If your motive is pure, why do you go into business with americans? aren't they imperialists? why did you atack north Vietnam in 1979 after the country was united, aren't they supposed to be your communist brothers? Shame on you for the snake like business, and partially shame on the vietnamese to be dumb enough to killed each other for you.

by: Charlie from: UK
July 26, 2012 10:31 AM
@Jonathan How could some shallow individual like you who knows nothing about history,comes on here and make irrational comments

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
July 26, 2012 8:43 AM
ROC(Taiwan) is the first has a constant administration over south China sea and is the only part has a permanent military base on Nansha islands. Viets and Finos didn't say anything when Taiwan published the earliest offical national map which included south china sea and built a military base there. They didn't protest until oil and gas were found in that place, then they started to invade our sea and islands. Who is greedy? Isn't that clear? US the trouble maker want to constrain China
In Response

by: John from: Aus
July 28, 2012 4:03 AM
You are right. Your evidence is much more concrete than others'.
In Response

by: To the pea brain Jon Huan from: Bejing
July 26, 2012 2:29 PM
hey John Huang. What is Taiwan anyway? You are a bunch of outlaw Chinese who got kicked out there to become a bunch of rebels. You have no right to claim on anything. We china will eat you alive as the first island to take back. We might not have righteous claim to the Paracel and Spratly islands, but your a$$ belongs to us...rebel son
In Response

by: Viet from: Canada
July 26, 2012 12:24 PM
J.Huang, we know you are China supporter but keep what you think (the way China thinks) for you don't come here and bark. The whole world now realize that China is a big greedy liar.

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
July 26, 2012 8:34 AM
Very easy, China should take the whole south China sea and sign a treaty with US to guaranty its free access of this waterway. Since China take it all, there will be not conflict at all in the future. Btw, China already promised the free ship pass. China herself has majority shipping along this waterway so she is he first one want to keep it in peace.
In Response

by: Peter from: California
August 21, 2012 2:18 AM
Do you really think USA would be that stupid to agree to what China is willing to allow them on the water that USA freely maneuver in the past? Keep dreaming, dude.
In Response

by: Peter from: California
August 21, 2012 2:14 AM
Huang, you were wrong. The French has administered both Paracels and Spratly island groups during their colonial rule of Viet Nam and handed them over to Viet Nam after they pulled out of Indochina, Viet Nam+Cambodia+Laos. In the past, China always considered SCS as Viet Nam sea. S. Viet Nam ambassador had declared ownership of these island groups in San Francisco UN meeting without any objections from any country. Taiwan took the largest island in Spratly group. Philippines took those were closer to them. Yet, Spratly is a large group of islands, S. Viet Nam cant control them all due to lack of resources and also because Taiwan and Philippine are US allies. 80% of Spratly was under S. Viet Nam administrative with clear jurisdiction. Now, Viet Nam is united, those previously administered by S.VN belong to Viet Nam. Taiwan was not the first to set up administrative post in all Spratly islands. Just the largest one, which they still hold these days.
In Response

by: eve6 from: Philippines
July 26, 2012 11:01 PM
@jonathan: i think your principles a and credibility as a person is weak. China's words cannot be trusted. this just their first move of their plan of the Island Chain. If china is able to secure the first island chain then the rest of the world will beg to them to let us pass through these waters.
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
July 26, 2012 1:29 PM
Actually, Rich your are right on about the moon issue.

There is a chinese fairy tale of the chinese girl Chang-e flying to the moon, and lived there. The chinese even have a Moon festival for her every year.
There you are, Rich, our chinese friends have a very ancient factual historical record of owning the moon. Infact since the american astronauts forgot to give her a ride back to the patriotic motherland, our comrades are working fervently at this minute copying the Apollo space ship with all the stolen technologies to show the world that they can bring her home without having to buy a used space ship like they bought the aircraft carrier from Ukraine.
Wow, reality check anybody !
In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
July 26, 2012 1:17 PM
To Jonathan,
I keep seeing your comment that because Taiwan claims entire South China Sea, it is true. Taiwan is part of China and has no evidence to claim Hoang Sa (Paracel) or Truong Sa(Spratly) islands. Taiwanese government is two faced and I don't think the U.S. trusts Taiwan entirely. That is why the U.S. only sells old weapon technology to Taiwan for defence against China.
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
July 26, 2012 12:17 PM
Ok, so let democratic Taiwan has all south china sea. Problem solved. Taiwan has unbeatable evidence to own the whole SCS and Taiwan has a permernant military base there. Taiwan is US ally so US doesn't need to worry about the access to this waterway. Taiwan is not run by communist, so you guys don't need to worry the treaty will be broken. Voila, all Chinese will be happy to see Taiwan has it all.
In Response

by: rich from: TORONTO
July 26, 2012 10:05 AM
You are so funny huang. I think you are one of the 50 cent commentator! who believes what china says? especially communists? big lier in the world! i think moon will be part of china from ancient time and there will be no problem if chink take it because they gonna promise!
In Response

by: rod santos from: mexico
July 26, 2012 9:57 AM
Jonathan your dead wrong china is greedy ok clear!!!
In Response

by: Dawn Dare
July 26, 2012 9:55 AM
China already has a bad reputation for duplicity. Promises broken.

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