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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid