News / Asia

South China Sea Dispute Poses Challenge for US

President Barack Obama begins his second term facing fresh tensions in the South China Sea as the Philippines takes its maritime dispute with China to the United Nations.

China's navy patrols the disputed waters. The Philippines rejects Chinese authority over the area.

"We want the arbitral tribunal to establish the rights of the Philippines to exclusively exploit the resources in our continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea," Philippine Assistant Foreign Affairs Secretary Gilbert Asuque explained.

x
China says Manila's move complicates the dispute. 

"China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and adjacent waters," insisted Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei. "The root of the dispute is caused by the Philippines' illegal occupation of some of the Chinese areas."

Justin Logan at the Cato Institute says involving the United Nations runs counter to how China wants to handle the issue.

"The Chinese have been trying as much as possible to keep this bilateral between itself and all the disputed parties and to prevent it from being internationalized in a systematic way," noted Logan.

Even if the U.N. Law of the Sea tribunal rules in favor of Manila, Logan questions who would enforce the decision.

"If enforcing findings means a shooting war with China, you may see findings that go unenforced," Logan said. "It may be a bargaining a chip that the Philippines say: 'Look, the balance is sort of tipping away from us. We can play this card and then have something that we can appear to give up if China makes a concession.'"

Chinese ambitions in the South China Sea were part of confirmation hearings for John Kerry, President Obama's choice as secretary of state. Republican Senator Marco Rubio questioned the administration's handling of the standoff.

"China is being increasingly aggressive about their territorial claims and their neighbors are looking to the United States and U.S. leadership as a counter balance," Rubio said.

Senator Kerry said China is reacting to more U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific.

"The Chinese take a look at that and say, 'What's the United States doing? Are they trying to circle us? What's going on?'" noted Kerry.
 
Given China's disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, and other Asian countries, Kerry says it is critical that Washington strengthen ties with Beijing.

"China is the other significant economy in the world and obviously has a voracious appetite for resources around the world, and we need to establish rules of the road that work for everybody," Kerry said.

China says it is working to resolve the rival claims through dialogue but opposes U.S. support of greater involvement by an alliance of South East Asian nations.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Facts from: Canada
February 23, 2013 2:02 PM
@Skampilan
Do you know that Taiwan has undeniable sovereignty of the largest island in the South China Sea ? This is the only island in the chain that has natural fresh water, thus it is qualified as habitable. Do you know what this mean? Do any of your maps show this fact ?
You may hope Philippine can justify its claim based on some unknown maps. Good luck to you. You need it.

by: Skampilan
February 20, 2013 2:47 PM
Check out the European maps of the 1600's. You'll see that Spratlys and Scarborough shoal was part of the Philippines. Even the Republic of Venice acknowledges it. For almost a hundred years Scarborough was a mere gunnery range by the Americans and now it is part of China? Since when? 2009 when they found out there is gas? Historically none of those were part of China. It was part of the Sultanate of Sulu and Sabah. China never came down that far because they'll have their head cut off. Don't change the history. Wiki leaks just busted your big lie. Wiki said that China admitted that they don't have a leg to stand on on this concocted 9 dash line scam claim.

by: FairPlay from: Canada
February 04, 2013 2:59 PM
@ Leche:
Do you know that UNCLOS and EEZ are not recognized by US? If you want to use the EEZ to justify claiming the land within 200 miles from the shore, good luck to you.
Do you know that your two remote northmost islands in the South China Sea are within Taiwan’s 200 mile EEZ? If you can claim S. Shoal, Taiwan can your two islands too.

by: Kill Greedy Chinese from: Spratly Island
February 01, 2013 12:46 AM
Bilateral Talk is not applicable to a Giant vs. Small nation. The United nation should take action to help smaller nations gain fair negotiation. China's position is pure sign of BULLYING.. Just trying to irritate nations to go war against them because they knew victory is in their side compared to smaller nations in South East Asia.
In Response

by: Fran
February 04, 2013 1:55 PM
@Leche
You are assuming that your country has the land feature that they grabbed from China. You cannot use the EEZ to justify claiming the land that is existing before you and your country is born.
Philippine has tried to use military force on civilians. China is only responding. Now who is the bully? You are badly biased and brainwashed by propaganda. No point discussing with you firther.
In Response

by: Leche Fran from: Scarborough Shoal
February 03, 2013 3:51 AM
@Fran: Philippine Navy ships trying to enforce Philippine laws well within the Philippines' 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone is NOT bullying. Chinese government ships preventing Philippine navy ships from doing their job by denying them freedom of navigation, even if they are well within the Philippines' EEZ, is definitely BULLYING. Yes, the PRC is a bully.
In Response

by: Fran
February 02, 2013 3:42 PM
It is not sheer size; it is justice. Did you ever say Philippine is a bully when the Flip WARSHIP harassed some Chinese fishermen last April? Your name suggests you are completely biased. There is no point discussing with someone with such mentality.

by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
January 31, 2013 2:41 PM
Chinas territorial expansion after World War II is well known. China occupied Manchuria in 1947, Xinjiang of Turkemenistan in 1948, Tibet in 1950, Aksai Chin and Karakoran Tract of India in 1962. Currently China has territorial disputes with (1) India regarding Arunachal Pradesh, Demchok or New Danchok Sector, Uttarkhand, and Ladak, (2) Vietnam regarding the Paracels Islands, (3) Philippines regarding Scarborough Reef, (4)
Japan regarding Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands or Pinacle Islands,
(5) Malaysia regarding Spartlys Islands, (6) Taiwan because of Chinese claim of Taiwan as part of China, (7) Brunei regarding Spratly Island, and (8) US regarding the territotorial claim of China for the whole South China Sea.

The US has to stand up to the intimidations of China in the South China Sea not just because of national interests of the US but also to stop China's bullying of defenseless ASEAN countries.
Brunei

Brunei.
with North Korea regarding the islands in the Yalu and Tumen rivers,
In Response

by: Fran from: Canada
January 31, 2013 4:20 PM
Another China basher. How much do you know about Chinese histroy? Where else do you learn about China except from anti-China propaganda?

by: robin from: massachusetts
January 30, 2013 8:40 PM
the world has to punish china for what it has done,and the US is the first one to say it, the US must stay with the righteousness.Look what the Chinese has done.First, they did not own those islands, they took away by force such as they invaded Tibet ,then now they say Tibet is their country.It is outrageous, but the US keeps silence.The US should not silence anymore,because the world is with us.The time is now or never.If China wants war, give them hell.
In Response

by: Danny from: Shanghai
January 30, 2013 11:59 PM
Poor Robine, how much do you know the history of this region & China? Fairly, did you ever read any history book in relevance, written by whoever?

by: Tuan from: USA
January 30, 2013 12:40 PM
In respond to johnathon Huang, a greedy Chinese. Bring your evidence to UN Court. The fact is China used military force to kill the fishermen and occupy Spratly and Paracel islands. Vietnam and Philippine have no capabilties to invade China. China is afraid the dispute internationalized. We have peace until China gets in the region. China is imitating old bad Japanese Imperial to invade South Chia Sea.
In Response

by: Fran from: Canada
January 31, 2013 4:12 PM
@ Hoang
You have twisted the facts. I say it again. The islands were returned to Taiwan shortly after WW2 that ended in 1945. Now in effect you agreed that Vietnam took control of, or more exactly stole, some of the smaller islands in 1973. Your reference to some ancient maps is totally ridiculous. Numerous maps show that the islands are Chinese territory. Even your late communist party leader has written and signed a document to say that the islands belong to China. Your accusation that Taiwan took Taiping island, which is the largest in the island chain is deplorable. Do you know that Taiping Island is thousands of miles from Taiwan? Only fools will believe your words. No country, including China and USA can stop Vietnam to take the dispute to UN. Vietnam does not do that because Vietnam knows it will lose the case.
In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
January 31, 2013 12:53 PM
To Fran
Get your facts right and don't distort history. Paracel(Hoang Sa) and Spratly(Truong Sa) were under control of South Vietnam in 1973. Vietnam administered these island since 17th century and have ancient Chinese maps to prove it. China invaded Hoang Sa and Taiwan sneakily took control of largest island of Truong Sa from south Vietnam in 1973 at the end of Vietnam war when Paris Peace Accord in 1973 left South Vietnam without support from U.S. How come China doesn't want to go to U.N. tribunal but prefer to bully its smaller and weaker neighbours?
In Response

by: Fran from: Canada
January 31, 2013 11:49 AM
@ Tuan: Are you ignorant of the fact that Vietnam has occupied most of the islands in the South China Sea. Philippine is just slightly behind Vietnam. To give you the history: Spratly and Paracel islands is just a part of the South China Sea. The islands have different names in Chinese history dating back to thousand years. During WW2, South China Sea was a major Jap/USA war zone. At the conclusion of the war, USA returned the SCS together with all the land features to Republic of China (Taiwan) who is the rightful owner.

But Taiwan, having internal trouble at that time, could only afford to station guards on the largest island in the South China Sea. The greedy neighbors, like Vietnam and Philippine sneakily managed to grab most of the islands from Taiwan. Both Taiwan and mainland China have been weak and not assertive enough in the past several decades to reclaim their loss. The truth has been hidden long enough by anti-China propaganda and some evil media . It a about time for the world to see the true picture.

by: Henry from: New York
January 30, 2013 10:34 AM
Everytime I read the comment sections about China and its dispute in the SCS. I see plenty that side with Philippines and Vietnam over China because the disputed islands are closer to them. However, I don't see them siding with Taiwan or China and their proximity to Diaoyu/Senkakus in ECS. The hypocrisy dont just end at proximity of the disputed islands because the argument of proximity is not a basis for sovereignty. China is labeled automatically as a bully because its current naval might but when China's navy was comically weak in the 60s and the 70s. It had the same claims in the SCS as it did now. No one seems to acknowledge that fact.

Taiwan is a democratic country with its rightful claim in the SCS with Taiping Island. Establish sovereignty since 1956, therefore 200 nautical EEZ should apply to them but Vietnam and Philippines govt are completely ignoring that fact. Funny that the Japanese govt supports the Philippines in their proximity argument with China. However, the Japanese simply ignored the fact that Diaoyu is less than 100 miles from Taiwan.

The harsh reality is that geopolitics and economic/military might will always dictate the outcome of these disputes. China is growing and ever hungrier for the black gold. The bottomline is who is willing to use its advantages to enforce their will.

by: Wright from: USA
January 30, 2013 1:27 AM
It looks like John Kerry played chicken with greedy China.
Since when China has indisputable sovereignty over the island thousand miles from mainland China? The East China Sea is more than big enough for China. Southeast Asia countries has only that much sea to share with each others. China should stay out of it.
If only china plays fair, then we don't have any problem.

by: Wu from: Singapore
January 29, 2013 8:19 PM
China comes to its neighbor's sea and says: Hey this is my sea. If china is powerful enough, it will come to San Francisco and say: Hey this is my land.
China is the source of all evil for the world.
Since when Spratly and Paracel island belong to China?
China pretends that they don't see its neighbors have lived on the islands and just claims the islands.
China avoids internationalized the dispute because they know that they are so wrong and want other nations played their dirty rules.
In Response

by: JL
January 30, 2013 3:08 PM
I am 100 percent agreed with Mr. Wu: Japan, Philippines, and Vietnam have exposed China real motives and intentions for the world to see. China is a threat to region and the world and must be contain and break up. Tibet return to Tibetans and Ughuri return to Ughurs. Northern part of China return to Mongols.
Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs