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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

All About America

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