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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

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