News / Asia

China Irritates Neighbors as Tensions Rise in South China Sea

Hundreds of Vietnamese hold a rare protest in Hanoi demanding China stay out of their country's waters Sunday, June 5, 2011.
Hundreds of Vietnamese hold a rare protest in Hanoi demanding China stay out of their country's waters Sunday, June 5, 2011.
William Ide

Tensions in the South China Sea over territorial disputes are rising once again with China clashing with Vietnam and the Philippines recently. The disputes come as the United States and ASEAN try to help those with claims in the resource rich waters resolve their differences through dialogue and avoid the use of force or threats.

At a rare protest rally on Sunday in Vietnam, hundreds converged on the Chinese Embassy to blast Beijing for its recent alleged aggressions in the South China Sea. Vietnam says a Chinese vessel intentionally cut a submerged cable of a Vietnamese oil survey ship last month while it was conducting seismic tests.

The Philippines has also reported renewed territorial disputes, accusing China of unloading building materials and putting up military posts on reefs claimed by Manila. China defends its actions and says they are completely justified.


On Sunday, speaking at a regional defense forum in Singapore, China's Defense Minister Liang Guanglie claimed the recent flare ups with Vietnam and the Philippines were now under control.  "There has always been freedom to navigate in the South China Sea. No one owns it. The overall situation in the area is stable," he said.

Dean Cheng, an Asia defense analyst at the Heritage Foundation in Washington says while China may not be shooting anyone, it's actions are provocative and put lives in danger. “[China] seem[s] to be engaging in a broad-based push to lay claim to the entire region and they don’t seem to care whose toes they are stepping on," he said.

China Irritates Neighbors as Tensions Rise in South China Sea
China Irritates Neighbors as Tensions Rise in South China Sea

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN has been working with China to reach an agreement on a code of conduct for the South China Sea.

Speaking at the same conference on Sunday, Vietnam's Deputy Minister of Defense Ngyuen Chi Vinh says China's cooperation is crucial and adds Vietnam's resolve is firm. "The consistent unwavering position of our party and state is that we will use all means to protect our sovereignty," he said.

The South China Sea is a major shipping lane and is believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves. It is claimed by several countries including Brunei, Malaysia, China, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

The United States has offered to facilitate territorial disputes between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors.  

Speaking in Washington last week, Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell says the U.S. continues to promote dialogue between the disputing parties. “We discourage a resort to violence in these circumstances or threats and we want to see a process of dialogue emerge.  We communicate intensively and privately with a variety of states associated with the South China Seas and I think we are going to continue to do that as we go forward," he said.

China prefers to discuss disputes one on one with other claimants. And, until recently Beijing appeared to be easing off in its assertions of territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Heritage Foundation analyst Dean Cheng says the recent uptick in tensions may be a sign Beijing is testing the waters with Vietnam or the United States.  He points out China's actions follow a string of summits between China and the United States, including between President Hu Jintao and Barack Obama in January. “This may well be a test. To see - ok-  we’ve had these summits, we’ve said that we want better relations: Are you going to jeopardize that promise of better relations now by interacting on behalf of the Southeast Asians or with the Southeast Asians over issues the Chinese feel is their territorial rights," he said.

Cheng says the increase in tensions could also be related to China's upcoming leadership transition in 2012. Chinese President Hu Jintao steps down from office next year and Cheng says it could be that the incoming government and outgoing government feel they have no choice but to take a stand and make a point that this is China's territory.

Over the past week, U.S. officials have stressed Washington's commitment to Asia, in particular Southeast Asia, and their willingness to work together with China in the region. China says it too is committed to peacefully resolving disputes in the region.

However, from the streets of Hanoi, it appears that resolution may still be a long way off.

Discuss this story and others on VOA forums

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid