News / Asia

US to Monitor South China Sea

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) steps off his aircraft alongside Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Sydney, August 11, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) steps off his aircraft alongside Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Sydney, August 11, 2014.
Reuters

The United States will monitor the South China Sea to see whether "de-escalatory steps'' are being taken, a U.S. State Department official said on Monday, a day after China repelled U.S. pressure to rein in actions in the disputed waters.

The official spoke as Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Sydney for a meeting with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Australian officials to discuss increased defense and cyber security cooperation.

Spratly Islands, China Sea Territorial ClaimsSpratly Islands, China Sea Territorial Claims
x
Spratly Islands, China Sea Territorial Claims
Spratly Islands, China Sea Territorial Claims

A U.S. proposal for a freeze on provocative acts in the South China Sea got a cool response from China and some Southeast Asian nations at a regional meeting at the weekend, an apparent setback to U.S. efforts to thwart China's assertive moves.


 "The immediate follow-up ... is to assess the meeting scheduled in a few weeks between ASEAN and China at the working group and the senior official level to discuss what equates to the freeze,'' the U.S. official told reporters.

"We will also be monitoring the actual situation around the rocks, reefs, and shoals in the South China Sea.''

China's Xinhua state news agency warned on Monday that "by stoking the flames, Washington is further emboldening countries like the Philippines and Vietnam to take a hardline stance against China, raising suspicion over the real intention of the United States and make an amicable solution more difficult to reach.''

"It is a painful reality that Uncle Sam has left too many places in chaos after it stepped in, as what people are witnessing now in Iraq, Syria and Libya,'' Xinhua added in a commentary. ``The South China Sea should not be the next one.''

Tension spiked in May when China parked a giant oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam. The U.S. and Philippine proposals aimed to prevent such action, as well as building and land reclamation work on disputed islands being carried out by China and other claimants.

The rancor over the disputed sea has split ASEAN, with several states including some of the claimant nations reluctant to jeopardize rising trade and investment ties with China.

China has been able to use its influence to block regional action on the maritime issue before, most notably in 2012 when an ASEAN meeting chaired by Chinese ally Cambodia broke down in acrimony.

"I think it's pretty clear, China's actions speak for themselves,'' U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters at a briefing in Sydney, adding the U.S. position remained that such disputes should be resolved through international law.

'Pacific power'

Australia was one of the countries to support the U.S. proposal at the weekend ASEAN meeting in Myanmar.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop traveled to Australia with Kerry and they planned to explore follow up actions to the Myanmar talks including an upcoming meeting between ASEAN members and China, the official said.

Bishop is hosting the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in Sydney, where defense and security cooperation is expected to be high on the agenda along with Iraq and Ukraine.

Talks will include discussions on cooperation in ballistic missile defense, cyber security and maritime security, Hagel told reporters at a briefing with Australian Defense Minister David Johnston ahead of the formal talks.

The ministers will sign an agreement reached between President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the deployment of U.S. marines to Australia for joint exercises and training in areas such as disaster relief.

"It will expand our regional cooperation here in Asia-Pacific from engagement with ASEAN to the trilateral cooperation that we have been working on with Japan,'' Hagel said, adding that the U.S. was firmly committed to its rebalance to the region.

"We have an interest here, we will continue to have an interest here, we are a Pacific power.''

Some 1,150 Marines are stationed in Darwin in Australia's tropical north under a 2011 agreement that launched President Barack Obama's strategic "pivot'' to the fast-growing Asia region.  The Marine contingent, primed to respond to regional conflicts and humanitarian crises, is expected to swell to 2,500 by 2017.

Obama's pivot has irked China, which sees it as an attempt to block its growing diplomatic, military and political influence across the region, and has faced criticism from some allies doubtful about U.S. commitment to the strategy.

Johnston said the further deployment of U.S. troops in Australia would be one of the issues on the agenda at Tuesday's talks, amid reports that the U.S. plans to station more fighter jets and bombers in Australia's north.

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry rests his hands on the shoulders of Australian Ambassador to the U.S., Kim Beazley, upon his arrival in Sydney, Aug. 11, 2014.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry steps off his aircraft alongside Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, in Sydney, Aug. 11, 2014.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (right) chats with school children while visiting the National Maritime Museum in Sydney, Aug. 11, 2014.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, meets with Australian sailor Jessica Watson, right, during a visit to the National Maritime Museum in Sydney, Aug. 11, 2014.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets students from several Sydney high schools during his visit aboard a replica of Captain Cook's ship 'Endeavour' at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, Australia, Aug. 11, 2014.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs