News / Asia

    Will Regional Ties Prevent South China Sea Conflict?

    FILE - Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivers a keynote speech at the 20th International Conference on The Future of Asia in Tokyo, May 22, 2014.
    FILE - Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivers a keynote speech at the 20th International Conference on The Future of Asia in Tokyo, May 22, 2014.
    Victor Beattie

    Despite rising nationalist sentiment in the South China Sea region, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he thinks a growing regional interdependence will prevent any maritime conflicts from occurring.

    Speaking Tuesday at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations, Lee said the Asia-Pacific region is changing, especially with a rising China.  

    He said other countries are becoming stronger and their interactions have become more intense in the past 10 years, as trade and people movements grow.  

    But, with such interaction, he said, come more friction points, such as territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

    "None of the Southeast Asian countries want to have a fight with China. In fact, China, too, goes considerably out of its way to develop friendly relations with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations),” Lee said.

    “But, there is this issue of the territorial and maritime disputes,” he added. “It is not easy to resolve because of another factor that has changed in the past 10 years, because nationalism has become a stronger sentiment and a stronger factor in influencing governments.”

    Lee said this is particularity true in Japan and China.

    South China Sea

    He said China maintains that its historic claims on most of the South China Sea precede international law and this has to be recognized.

    "I’m not a lawyer, so I presume there is some plausibility in that argument. But, from the point of view of a country which must survive in an international system, where there are big countries and small and outcomes cannot be determined just by might is right, I think international law must have a big weight in how disputes are resolved,” Lee said.

    Lee suggested China follow the example of another big power, the United States, in generally abiding by international law.  

    He said if China can reach that position, it will have made a great achievement.

    Historically, Lee said, China knows that other big powers that have risen by the use of might, such as Spain, Portugal, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the British Empire, have all fallen.

    He said China is trying to avoid making the same mistake.

    Lee said that while China is successfully transforming its economy, it still has not figured out what he calls social management   maintaining social harmony while finding ways to engage the population and its demand for a greater say.  

    But, Lee said he is confident Chinese leaders are committed to the path of reform.

    Japan relations

    Nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, Lee said its time for Japan to turn the page on the war, insisting that it must improve relations with South Korea and China.

    Lee said unless Japan can put WWII behind it, including the issues of comfort women, aggression and “whether bad things were done during the war, I think this is going to be a continuing sore” for Japan.

    They must work with China and South Korea to heal, he said.

    Lee, who is in Washington this week, said the United States and Singapore signed a free-trade agreement 10 years ago.  

    He said he was optimistic that negotiations leading to the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership free-trade pact are nearly complete. He called the TPP a key component of the Obama administration’s rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    July 21, 2014 5:00 PM
    China always thinks itself is a big tiger, so it always thinks it can bully other small nations, And it always thinks that international communities will tolerate its arrogance.

    But the truth is that China is a tiger, only made of paper. And if it really thinks that it can occupy the whole south china sea. The result of Nazi Germany and Japan in world war 2 are its example.

    by: So So from: US
    June 25, 2014 6:35 PM
    China will not back down.
    Will regional ties prevent South China Sea conflict?
    -- It's anybody's guess.

    by: Tuan from: Vietnam
    June 25, 2014 1:57 PM
    meanbill from usa
    You can say whatever you want here, but not in China! You know what happened if Vietnam or Philippine puts an oil rig 300 miles from Chinese coast. So stop lying and live as human. It is 2014 but it is not ancient time when China expanded border.

    by: Robert from: New york
    June 25, 2014 1:29 PM
    Chinese leaders are too greedy occupying the 90% of the south china sea. China are idiot when comes to measurement. They thought they discovered the sea prior to existence of their neighbors.

    FYI Chinese leaders, yours neighbors were already on their respective islands before discovering those dotted areas. Vietnamese, Filipinos and Malaysian had been long fishing on those sea before you discover.
    In Response

    by: Ian from: USA
    June 25, 2014 3:16 PM
    For your information , Chinese leaders are not idiots when it comes to measurement, right now they are cooking up a version for the Moon story similar to the story of how their mother land encompasses 90 percent of the Southeast Asian sea .
    Knowing that they are the latecomer behind the US & USSR (thus the claim to mining any rare resource) in lunar exploration , they are working frantically on the theory that Chang'e (or Heng'e) floating to the moon in silk robe with the Chinese rabbit Yutu since very very very ancient time . Therefor , the moon has also been Chinese motherland since the time that humankind didn't even have the alphabet to spell that word yet .

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 25, 2014 12:17 PM
    The Chinese EZZ (nine dash line) does not violate any "Law of the Sea" or any other law of any kind, and after the countries that oppose it, exhaust their search of finding legal means to overturn China's claim, it'll be accepted... ONLY the US and Japan are using propaganda condemning the Chinese claim, for their own personal reasons, to establish more naval bases, and get troops and missiles in their countries....

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.