News / Asia

South China Sea Disputes Likely to Dominate US-China Talks

South China Sea Disputes Likely to Dominate Lead US-China Talksi
Scott Stearns
July 07, 2014 3:46 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel travel to Beijing this week for meetings with their Chinese counterparts on trade and security issues. As VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, those talks are expected to include discussions on new Chinese oil rigs in disputed waters off Vietnam that are driving up tensions in the South China Sea.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel travel to Beijing this week for meetings with their Chinese counterparts on trade and security issues. Those talks are expected to include discussions on new Chinese oil rigs in disputed waters off Vietnam that are driving up tensions in the South China Sea.

Vietnam says the oil rigs are within its territorial waters and released a video of what it says is a Chinese vessel ramming a Vietnamese fishery control boat near the site.

Vietnam is working with the Philippines on legal challenges to Chinese claims in the South China Sea -- where Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan also have competing claims. Vietnam is especially vulnerable, according to American University professor Hillary Mann Leverett.

"Both Japan and the Philippines have a defense treaty with the United States where the United States is obligated to come to their defense even over a craggy island. We don't have that with Vietnam. So China can push Vietnam even further than it pushes Japan or the Philippines," she said.

Naval engagements

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said those pushing for international arbitration in the South China Sea are violating legal norms.

"Some countries are waving the signboard of 'law' to encroach upon the legitimate rights and interests of other countries, putting on a 'legitimate' cloak to cover up their law-violating behaviors," said Qin.

While the United States is helping upgrade the Filipino navy, Washington is not taking a position on any of the rival claims in the South China Sea.

American Enterprise Institute analyst Michael Auslin said, "But that doesn't mean that our policy should be frozen or paralyzed when we see China acting coercively or acting aggressively. There's lot of things we can do. But the Obama administration, at least in this term, has decided that it is going to use the fig leaf of legal ambiguity in order not to get involved."

Auslin said this undercuts the value of this week's Strategic and Economic Dialogue, or S&ED.

"Seriously, we have to ask what is the point of the S&ED anymore? It has achieved nothing substantive," he said.

The Foreign and Defense Ministers' talks in Beijing follow China's navy joining, for the first time, U.S.-led naval exercises off Hawaii. U.S. officials say that could help address multilateral challenges. Chinese officials say it shows what it calls "the positive attitudes of the Chinese armed forces in maintaining regional security and stability.

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Comment Sorting
by: NG from: Canada
July 09, 2014 12:48 AM
Michael Auslin is an idiot, and he shoudl learn histrory and related legal/law issues to South China Sea before his prejudices.

For South China Sea, the 11-dash line (boundary between China and Vietnam/Phillipines etc) of South China Sea was set by KMT (taiwan) government, who was an ally of the US in WWII, now the 11-dash line reduced to 9-dash line. During WWII and after WWII until 1950-1970s, Philippines and Vietnam have never questioned 9-dash line, actually Vietnam even acknowledged by written form for boundary between China and Vietnam (i.e. 9 dash line) in 1950-1970s. In the past 20-30 years, Vietnam changed their mind and used 1980s so called sea treaty to try to get more South China Sea back. Vietnam even claimed almost all of South China Sea as its territory. The sea treaty is ratified in 1980s and is not applicable for boundary set in 1950-1970s between China and Vietnam. We cannot use current law to judge cases which happened before the law was in effect.
Please also remember that it is Vietnam who occupied most South China Sea islands and extracted (is extracting) huge amounts of gas and oil from South China Sea , NOT China, China didn’t get one drop of oil from South China sea so far. So it is Vietnam who bully China, a small dog is biting a big elephant.

BTW, American didn't ratify the 1980s sea treaty, China did sign that 1980s sea treaty, but conditional, in other words, the sea treaty is not applicable to sea boundary set before the 1980s seat treaty. So China doesn't violate any international sea law, and follow the 9-dash line in South China Sea, which set by KMT in 1940s (taiwan, a US ally) and recognized by Vietnam in 1950-1970s (written form).
In Response

by: Duc from: California
July 12, 2014 3:36 PM
You should read the Vietnamese text (the original) instead of just reading from Chinese source. The written from which you said "actually Vietnam even acknowledged by written form for boundary between China and Vietnam (i.e. 9 dash line) in 1950-1970s" never mentioned anything about the disputed islands or 9-dash-line. Your second reason is "Vietnam extracted huge amount of gas and oil in SCS" but they are within 200 miles of Vietnam's economic zone. Lastly, the 11-dash-line first appeared in 1948. Before that, I ask you a question " Did China protest when France sent troops to the islands in the early 1900s? " , so you said "Vietnam have never questioned" is not correct.

by: oldlamb from: Guangzhou
July 08, 2014 4:52 AM
The US lacks of the qualification to talk with China,and to arbitrate the dispute of territory in South China Sea,bcoz whereever The US has interfered where woe of the chaos and agony has betided on.For example Iraq,Libya,Afghanistan,Ukrain…etc.

by: Wang from: USA
July 07, 2014 11:32 PM
China is a country with second economy, rich and strong but why they act like a bunch of thugs. I don't think they have any moral standards. Shame on the leaders of a country like China.

by: Tuan nguyen from: usa
July 07, 2014 9:14 PM
take Viet Nam, delete one opponent. because Viet nam is easy to get since there are no treaty with USA. Then control all islands, build airport and will not need carrier, save lot of $$$. next one is Philippine. Don't need to fight Japanese, they already won the whole ASEAN. That is why Chinese low their talk to do more work with South Korea (why not North lol).

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