News / Asia

China Slams Western Involvement in S. China Sea Issue

WASHINGTON — China is responding to accusations that it scuttled Southeast Asian unity over the South China Sea by lashing out at what it calls Western meddling among rival claimants. The Obama administration, though, says China should not pursue a "divide-and-conquer" strategy in the maritime standoff.

Chinese patrols in waters also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines are deepening animosities in the South China Sea.

"What we’re most concerned about at the moment is that tensions are going up among the stakeholders. So we want to see a commitment to a deal that meets the needs of all," said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Engagement through ASEAN

Washington believes that deal should come through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

But Beijing says the South China Sea is an issue for rival claimants to decide among themselves. On a trip to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said ASEAN should focus on broader goals.

"Peace, stability and development in East Asia is our common aspiration," said Yang. "In a complicated international situation, we need to maintain regional stability, promote mutual trust, and boost economic growth."

When ASEAN foreign ministers last month failed to agree on a unified approach to the maritime dispute, China was roundly criticized for dividing the group.

Following Yang's trip, however, China's official Xinhua news agency lashed out at those accusations, saying ASEAN unity was undermined by Western "meddling" meant to "smear China's positive role."

Nuland says ASEAN countries want to protect their larger security interests.

"They came at it from different perspectives, and rather than whitewashing that problem and having a weak communiqué that didn’t say much, they chose to continue to talk about it," she said.

Yang said ASEAN members value their friendship with China, since the bloc has become Beijing's third-largest trading partner.

Determining China's agenda

Justin Logan, who directs foreign policy studies at the U.S. Cato Institute, said Chinese contracts remain a lucrative incentive for ASEAN members without claims to the South China Sea.

"I think the chances for a code of conduct that meant something, at the outset, were low," he said. "And so I think that what this might do is create a clearer distinction between ASEAN countries and their position on China."

Nuland said a divisive strategy by China would not be good.

"If bilateral diplomacy can be supportive of an ultimate, multilateral framework, then that will be fine; but we don’t think that cutting deals with these countries individually is going to work, let alone be the expedient way or the best way under international law to get this done," she said.

Yang said China backs ASEAN's leading role at the East Asia Summit and at next month's meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Russia.

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Comment Sorting
by: Do Van Toan from: Viet nam
August 16, 2012 2:38 PM
Easr sea belong to China? Ridiculous!. China 's so greedy and agressive.
In Response

by: Chan Phan from: USA
August 19, 2012 2:11 PM
Northern Vietnam also used to belong to China. So, the Chinese may also claim it on a historical basis, but that does not make sense, does it? Similarly, China's claims on the Paracel and Spratly islands are utterly ridiculous.
In Response

by: Suon from: Uk
August 18, 2012 4:08 AM
Why don't the Vietnamse give they land and islands it tools from Cambodia when they invaded the country in 1978? Because you accuse me of Chinese, I am a Cambodian! You took our land which is now south Vietnam when you were kicked out of China!
In Response

by: Zhuo from: China
August 17, 2012 7:17 AM
There is no doubt that South China Sea belongs to China. China is friendly on that things , we also don't want to somethings unexpected happen... but...

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
August 16, 2012 8:15 AM
SCS belongs to China, but we can share the benefits from it with VN and Fino. It's the best solution for all parts.
In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
August 16, 2012 11:43 AM
Why would VN or PH share benefits in SCS with China when China is the invader of Paracel and Spratley islands from Vietnam and PH? China continue to kill innocent, defenceless Vietnamese fishermen. It is China's trickery to bully and argue that VN and PH agreed that these islands belong to China

by: Din from: China
August 16, 2012 4:36 AM
When China proclaims it is a peaceful nation without aggressive military intentions, think again. China is beginning to flex its new-found military muscle, and this is just the beginning.

by: CK from: Viet Nam
August 16, 2012 4:01 AM
Seems that China has it own strategy for the dispute claimants but it cannot release at this very period due to remaining misunderstandings from VN and Philippines. Cooperation between these 3 nations still there and needed further negotiation without interference from other not-related countries (US).
In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
August 16, 2012 10:17 AM
CK, again I said don`t post that you are from Vietnam. You are Chinese. Your opinion does not reflect that of Vietnamese people within and outside of Vietnam. This again show sneaky tactics by Chinese to claim all islands in East sea. All Vietnamese welcome U.S. presence in South East Asia. Only coward Vietnam Communist party negotiate with China.

August 15, 2012 11:07 PM
ASEAN is so fragile that cant take any temptation. It likes a husband has a affair, but blame the lady's allure.

by: Anonymous
August 15, 2012 6:52 PM
China is actually conquering South China Sea by bribery money. ASEAN is nothing but an association of corruption. USA just can't do anything about that.

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