World News

Pentagon: US-Japan Treaty Covers Disputed Islands

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has reaffirmed the U.S.-Japan defense treaty applies to a group of disputed islands that were included in China's bid to establish an air defense zone.

A Pentagon spokesman says Hagel spoke Wednesday with his Japanese counterpart, Itsunori Onodera, to discuss the security situation in the East China Sea.

The spokesman says the U.S. defense chief "commended the Japanese government for exercising appropriate restraint in the wake of [China's] announcement."

Senior Obama administration officials say U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will discuss the issue with officials in China next week as part of his upcoming three-nation tour of the region, which will include a stop in Japan.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced it had flown two unarmed B-52 bombers near the disputed islands in the first direct challenge to Beijing's bid to establish an air defense zone.

China's Defense Ministry said Wednesday it monitored "the entire course of the flights and identified them in a timely way." It warned "China is capable of exercising effective control" over the area.

The Pentagon said the Monday flights did not trigger an immediate response from Beijing, which two days earlier had declared the airspace part of a new air defense identification zone. China warned all aircraft to identify themselves before entering the area and obey all orders from Beijing.



U.S. officials describe the Monday flights as part of long-planned and routine training missions. But analysts say it was a clear message that Washington will not recognize China's attempt to establish control over the area.

Ralph Cossa of the Hawaii-based Pacific Forum tells VOA the B-52 flights were a "quick and appropriate" response to what is seen by many as a Chinese escalation.



"I think it was important to quickly demonstrate that we were not going to essentially allow the Chinese to start carving out international airspace that others cannot use."



China published coordinates for the so-called East China Sea Air Identification Zone on Saturday and warned it would take emergency defense measures to enforce its claim.

But it is not clear to what extent China will enforce the new rules.

Herman Finley, an associate professor at the Asia-Pacific Center, tells VOA that while it is not likely China will back down, it is probably not looking for a confrontation at this time.



"(The Chinese) push, they see what the reaction is, and then they push back when they see there's an opportunity. They've made their point. They'll wait and see when there's an appropriate, relatively predictable time to reassert their prerogatives."



Some analysts have described the Chinese move as a miscalculation, saying it may have underestimated U.S. resolve to protect the interests of its ally, Japan.

Michael McKinley with the Australia National University tells VOA that China is "pushing its luck" in this regard.



"It's attempting to see what is in the realm of the possible and the tolerable. The problem is that it's going to run into increasing resistance particularly from those who think it would be better now rather than later to confront China with some higher form of force."



The uninhabited islands -- known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China -- were annexed by Japan in the late 19th century. China claimed sovereignty over the archipelago in 1971. Beijing linked its claims to ancient maps it says shows the territory has been Chinese for centuries.

The festering dispute is one of several maritime controversies pitting China against Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.

Beijing has indicated a willingness to negotiate the disputes, but has so far rejected calls for multilateral talks. It has sought separate talks with each country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs