News / Asia

South China Sea Tensions Overshadow New US Military Engagement

Aerial view of Pagasa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines (file photo)
Aerial view of Pagasa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines (file photo)
Brian Padden

U.S. plans to send additional military personnel to Australia in the coming years have drawn mixed responses among Southeast Asian leaders who are wary of increasing the possibility of military confrontation.

But analysts say ongoing territorial disputes about the South China Sea are an even greater worry.

During a news conference following the East Asia Summit, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono did not say whether he supported or opposed the agreement between Australia and the United States to station up to 2,500 American forces in Australia in the next few years. He only said he was reassured that the U.S. is committed to maintaining peace in the region.

Yudhoyono said he met with President Obama to officially hear that the U.S. has no intention of disturbing any of Australia's neighboring countries.


Despite the public ambivalence of some leaders, Carl Thayer, a Southeast Asia analyst with the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defense Force Academy, said privately, most regional leaders welcomed the news.

Thayer said the United States is especially appreciated when it comes to dealing with China about territorial disputes in the South China Sea. He said ASEAN countries need the involvement of the U.S. military.

“They are slowly improving their capability but they need the majors powers to balance eachother out," Thayer said. "And so the U.S. presence, as I say, provides the oxygen, allows them to breath, have a central role, knowing that China has to take into account the fact that the U.S. is engaged in the region.”

The South China Sea is of tremendous strategic importance to world shipping and is believed to hold huge oil and gas reserves. China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia all hold competing claims to parts of the sea.

China claims the entire South China Sea and says any dispute should be handled on a bilateral basis only. The United States takes no position on individual claims, but supports a multilateral approach to settle disputes based on international maritime law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas.

Thayer said of the 18 countries attending the summit, only Burma and Cambodia did not raise concerns about territorial disputes in the South China Sea and nearly all the Southeast Asian leaders supported President Obama's position.

“The White House take-out on this [is] you basically had most countries reaffirming the core features of Obama, the international law, the non-use of force, U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea, freedom and safety of navigation," he said.

Thayer sees a connection between the increased U.S. military engagement and ASEAN's growing unity on how to resolve territorial disputes in the region.

David Carden , U.S. Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, denied that the United States is trying assert a show of strength to influence ASEAN.

“I do not believe there is any reason to combine those issues - however tempting it might be for others who feel the United States is putting its' position forward. I don't think that is the case at all,” the ambassador said.

Carden said Washington is only playing a supportive role to ASEAN's longstanding leadership in negotiating a code of conduct with China.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid