News / USA

    Obama Pushes Law of the Sea to Help Settle S. China Sea Claims

    Obama Pushing UN Law of the Sea to Help Settle South China Sea Claimsi
    X
    June 02, 2014 11:09 PM
    U.S. President Barack Obama says a U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea would help ease tensions in the South China Sea if is ratified by U.S. lawmakers. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.
    U.S. President Barack Obama says a U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea would help ease tensions in the South China Sea if is ratified by U.S. lawmakers

    China is facing a series of maritime disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea.

    Speaking to Army Cadets at West Point, President Obama says it's more difficult for the U.S. push for a resolution of rival claims because it exempts itself from rules that apply to everyone else.

    "It’s a lot harder to call on China to resolve its maritime disputes under the Law of the Sea Convention when the United States Senate has refused to ratify it - despite the repeated insistence of our top military leaders that the treaty advances our national security," he said. "That’s not leadership; that’s retreat."

    The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea -- or UNCLOS -- establishes rules for commercial and military shipping as well as the distribution of offshore oil and gas royalties.

    That has made it a target for the president's opponents, including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

    "I do not believe the United States should endorse a treaty that makes it a legal obligation for productive countries to pay royalties to less-productive countries based on rhetoric about common heritage of mankind," he said.

    While not ratified by the Senate, the United States does observe most of the structures of the Law of the Sea treaty.  

    "I think the president was making a false choice," said American Enterprise Institute analyst Michael Auslin. "He was saying if we don't ratify UNCLOS, we can't call China to account for any of its provocative, coercive, and aggressive behavior. That's completely false. Of course we can."

    The latest flare-up in the South China Sea concerns a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters off Vietnam -  a standoff that Chinese Deputy Army Chief Wang Guangzhong says is being forced on Beijing.

    "China, in its issues concerning territorial sovereignty and maritime rights, has never taken the first step to provoke trouble," he said. "It has always been that China has been forced to respond."

    Vietnamese protesters say Beijing is trying to provoke wider confrontation over disputed islands.

    American University professor Hillary Mann Leverett says Beijing is trying to undermine U.S. alliances in Asia.

    "The way China has done that is to push these allies over issues that the United States doesn't really care about -- a craggy island here, a craggy island there," she said.  "Why should the United States really send the 7th Fleet out to fight China over these various islands?"

    U.S. reluctance to confront China has nothing to do with the Law of the Sea, says Auslin.

    "I think it shows a very disturbing trend line in the Obama administration of trying to find excuses for not getting more involved in the maritime and naval disputes that are roiling Asia," he said.

    The Philippines is using Law-of-the-Sea mechanisms to challenge China's territorial claims, but China is refusing to join that non-binding tribunal.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed

    Myanmar has third-highest mine casualty rate in the world, according to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which says between 1999 to 2014 it recorded 3,745 casualties, 396 of whom died

    Video Energy Lacking at Annual Offshore Oil Conference

    The slump in oil prices that began in 2014 has taken a toll on the industry but all express confidence it will end eventually

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: NG from: Canada
    June 17, 2014 3:10 AM
    the 11-dash line (boundary between China and Vietnam/Phillipines etc) of South China Sea was set by KMT (taiwan) government, who was an ally of the US in WWII, now the 11-dash line reduced to 9-dash line. During WWII and after WWII until 1950-1970s, Philippines and Vietnam have never questioned 9-dash line, actually Vietnam even acknowledged by written form for boundary between China and Vietnam (i.e. 9 dash line). In the past 20-30 years, these two small bothers, Philippines and Vietnam, changed their mind and used 1980s so called sea treaty to try to get more South China Sea back. Vietnam even claimed almost all of South China Sea as its territory. The sea treaty is ratified in 1980s and is not applicable for boundary set in 1950-1970s. We cannot use current law to judge cases which happened before the law was in effect.

    For example, the current US immigration law are not applicable to people who came to North America before the US immigration law was in effect, if you disagree with this, most Americans should go back to Europe since most of them came to North American illegally, and they should follow the current US immigration law to immigrate to US again. If you think this is ridiculous, then only stopping blaming China, China does have its reasons and basis for South China Sea claims. Please remember KMT government (Taiwan), a US ally, set up 9-dash line in 1940s.

    Please also remember that it is Vietnam who occupied most South China Sea islands and extracted (is extracting) huge amounts of gas and oil from South China Sea , NOT China, China didn’t get one drop of oil from South China sea so far. So it is Vietnam who bully China, a small dog is biting a big dog.
    Calm down before you only blame China and before your prejudice. These Asian countries should talk and stop provocative actions, e.g. Vietnam should stop extracting gas and oil from disputed South China Sea in order to get China back to the Table. Vietnam, the aggressive small dog, should not bully China, the big dog, much if Vietnam really want to solve South China Sea issues.

    Some aggressive small dogs really want to harass/bully/bite China. Like Japan invaded China during WWII. Japanese like to call themselves big Japan, but Japan is actually smaller than China in land area, but it is Japan who launched 14 years invasion to China during WWII. Can you believe it?



    by: Clayton Bigsby from: USA
    June 04, 2014 4:49 AM
    The Chinese are thieves. They will not engage in bi-lateral or multi-lateral discussions with any of the aggrieved half a dozen countries in the SCS and ECS. Rather they take an aggressive uni-lateral approach using subterfuge to plant oil rigs, garrisons, landing strips, etc in the middle of the night. They know their claims will be refuted and found baseless by the international community.

    by: jonathan huang from: canada
    June 03, 2014 10:41 AM
    funny, america finally realizes that it should just sh ut up and it is in no position of accusing chinas violation of UNCLOS. its ridiculous, a country is not part of UNCLOS but accuses other country of violating this law. can you be more double standard, a$$merica? and why a more productive china has to pay loyalties to much less productive Viet and Finos? get your own question back, america!
    In Response

    by: Taylor Tran from: United States
    June 06, 2014 7:07 AM
    What are you talking about you clown. Did you even look at the map on what China claims?, or are you just following your leaders mindlessly. Talking geographically, it's not even near China. Talking about claims from ancestry you have none. Don't be mixing the hate from the past with the current issue and for once just stop, look, and think. What makes sense about the proportion China claims. And just by saying we are less productive people proves you ignorance. I know I should have ignored it, but your ignorance needs to be in check.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 03, 2014 10:20 AM
    The law of the sea? -- Was the US and Europeans, Russia and Japan "Gunboat Treaties" and "Unequal Treaties" they forced upon a helpless humiliated China for over a hundred years? --

    DON'T TELL China about the "Law of the sea" -- they learned all about it the hard way, for over a hundred years of humiliation, from the "Gunboat Treaties" and "Unequal Treaties" forced upon them by the US, Europeans, Russia and Japan. -- (AND NOW?) -- China said, "It will never ever give up "one inch" of the motherland again" -- wherever that "one inch" of sovereign land, sea, or air, may be? --- (ONE INCH?).
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 03, 2014 12:49 PM
    Hey harry from Australia, -- When China said it would never ever give up "one inch" of the motherland again -- was that a promise to the Chinese people -- (OR?) -- is it a warning to those who'd try taking "one inch" of land, sea, or air, of the Chinese sovereign motherland? --- (A promise or warning?).
    In Response

    by: harry from: Australia
    June 03, 2014 11:20 AM
    The modern world cannot exist if nations want to settle old scores esp with nuclear weapons.We are 7billion living in a planet that is getting smallerwith every new human being born.

    by: Osamas Pajamas from: Ramona, California
    June 03, 2014 1:27 AM
    OhBummer is in favor of any measure which inflicts injury and expense on the USA or its allies.

    by: harry from: australia
    June 02, 2014 11:02 PM
    If America does not ratify the Law of the Sea then the consequences are that Amerca will be tested everytime there are claims and counter claims.And if they are not resolved peacefully than the global superpower will have to intervene.If America wants to be more inward looking then it is about time they stop calling themselves an international policeman.The chinese will exploit every weakness to exert themselves in the world and truly they are not to be trusted.The world is indeed entering into choppy waters and stormy seas.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora