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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.