News / Asia

Hagel Concerned About Possible South China Sea Conflict

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a press conference after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) defense ministers meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, Aug. 29, 2013.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a press conference after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) defense ministers meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, Aug. 29, 2013.
VOA News
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says he is concerned about the possibility of further conflicts resulting from rising tensions in disputed Asian waters.

Hagel's comments appeared in the prepared remarks of a speech given Thursday to a gathering of Asian defense ministers at a Brunei resort overlooking the South China Sea, where several ASEAN members have overlapping claims with China.

The Pentagon chief said actions at sea "to advance territorial claims" are not effective, and "increase the risk of confrontation, undermine regional stability and dim the prospects for diplomacy."

Several ASEAN nations have accused China and its rapidly advancing military of using increasingly aggressive tactics in defending its claims to the energy-rich, strategic area.

The U.S. has said it does not take sides in the disputes, but has strengthened military cooperation with several nations there, most notably Vietnam and the Philippines.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the ASEAN meeting Thursday that the South China Sea is "stable," and that there should be no concern about freedom of navigation in the area, an issue that has been repeatedly raised by Washington.

The territorial disputes were expected to top the agenda at the two-day ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus, which also brought together top defense officials from Japan, South Korea and other regional powers.

Analysts did not expect a breakthrough on the maritime standoffs, as China has been reluctant to even discuss the issue at such meetings. It instead prefers to deal with each rival claimant separately, a position that gives it a much greater advantage.

A Thursday editorial in the Global Times, China's Communist Party's official mouthpiece, said the ASEAN meeting is not the appropriate place to resolve maritime disputes.

ASEAN foreign ministers have been pushing for China to work towards signing a binding Code of Conduct to help prevent conflict in the territorial disputes. China has shown little interest in doing so, but recently promised to discuss the matter with ASEAN later in the year.

Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia are embroiled in territorial disputes with China over several resource-rich islands in the South China Sea. Japan and China are engaged in a separate dispute in the East China Sea.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations consists of Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and Laos.

The ADMM-Plus will help lay the groundwork for October's East Asian Summit, which will be attended by world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid