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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs