News / Asia

Beijing Denies Creating Rifts Over S. China Sea

x
China is denying that it is attempting to create discord within the ASEAN regional bloc in an attempt to exert more influence in disputed areas of the energy-rich South China Sea.

Some observers say Beijing does not want the 10-member Southeast Asian grouping to unify on the matter because China would rather deal with its much weaker rival claimants separately.

China's response

But an article in China's official Xinhua news agency dismissed the allegations, calling them Western attempts to stoke "mistrust and enmity between China and its close neighbors."

​The accusations intensified last month when ASEAN failed to move ahead on the South China Sea issue at a regional summit in Cambodia. The group failed to produce a joint statement for the first time in its 45-year history, an impasse that was widely attributed to Chinese political pressure.

But Xinhua on Monday shot back, suggesting such a split is the result of the "meddling of some Western countries" that are looking for a divided Asia, in an apparent reference to the Obama administration's recent so-called "pivot" towards the region.

Terrority disputes

Carlyle Thayer, a specialist on ASEAN affairs at the University of New South Wales, says it would be a mistake to argue that long-standing territorial disputes between China and its five rival claimants are the result of recent U.S. policy decisions.

"I think to put all the blame, or to even try to elevate the importance of the U.S. as the instigator has gotten the facts wrong," stated Thayer. "These disputes existed long before the so-called pivot was announced."

Thayer acknowledges that the Philippines and Vietnam, the two ASEAN members most outspoken against China's maritime claims, have become emboldened following the U.S. rebalancing. But he says U.S. officials have recently made comments encouraging restraint.

Diplomacy

The Xinhua commentary comes as Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi wrapped up his five-day tour of Southeast Asia, where he said China was willing to work with regional leaders on a long-delayed code of conduct to reduce tensions in the South China Sea.  

Thayer says Yang's trip is likely a bid by Beijing to limit the fall-out (damage) from the failure of last month's ASEAN summit, which some say highlighted China's heavy-handed efforts to create a more compliant ASEAN.

"I think the foreign minister's visit was a fence-mending [trip] designed to give reassurance that at least cooperative activities which have been in abeyance on the South China Sea are about to start and that the long-protracted negotiations on a code of conduct will be put back on track," said Thayer.

Following a meeting with Yang, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman called on ASEAN countries to settle their disputes with one another before dealing with China, raising the prospect of whether the trip was a success for Beijing.

China has become increasingly assertive in claiming nearly all of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea, which is thought to hold vast energy deposits and is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim parts of the region.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid