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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora