News / Asia

Turbulence Remains in South China Sea

Turbulence Remains in South China Sea
Turbulence Remains in South China Sea

The South China Sea has long been a disputed region.  China claims the waters.  But, many other nations have called various islands and areas of the sea their own.  The United States also has a long history in the South China Sea to the dismay of China.

Recent tensions in the South China Sea were discussed in Washington at a recent forum held by the private Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Kurt Campbell, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, says the United States wants to keep the heavily-used area for international commercial shipping free and safe.

"What we have seen, in recent years, is the South China Sea is really a vast area of ocean in which there have been for decades, generations, and conflicting, overlapping planes of sovereignty.  The traditional U.S. position has been one that we do not take a position on sovereignty and, indeed, we are not a claimant in these waters.  But, we have a very strong national interest in maintaining freedom of navigation and freedom of the seas," he said.

China has said it claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea.  But, former Ambassador Stapleton Roy, who is the Director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, says China may have internal political disagreements regarding the South China Sea.

"The Chinese do not speak with precision about the South China Sea.  Some Chinese make claims that are not documentable in terms of official actions by China.  The use of the term "core interest," I can show you Chinese language material that refers to the South China Sea as a core interest.  There is no official Chinese public statement making it a core interest," he said.

Ambassador Roy says the outward policy by China has been inconsistent with the exception of claiming total sovereignty over the area.

"Internally in China, there has been pushback against a too-soft policy that was not adequately defending China's interests in the South China Sea.  Now, it's very difficult to understand the Chinese position on the South China Sea.  The only thing that is crystal clear about it is that they believe they have indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea area," he said.

That belief has created tensions and sometimes conflict in the water.  Kurt Campbell says the activities in the South China Sea are not limited to commercial shipping and fishing.

"The truth is that many states operate actively in the South China Sea.  There are militaries, the Chinese have many exercises, as do we (the United States), as do the Indonesians, the Malaysians, the Vietnamese and other (countries)," he said.

Ambassador Stapleton Roy says, even with tensions in the area, most countries are seeking to work with the United States to maintain calm on the seas. "I do not sense deep alarm because they do not think it is going to get out of control.  But, if anything it has increased a desire on their part for greater solidarity with the United States.  That is not something that we have to push.  That is something that they are pulling on," he said.

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell says the solution will come from talks with all nations involved in the South China Sea.

"Ultimately, as China expands its activities, military and otherwise, they will come in contact with the United States more and more.  It is in U.S. interest, and indeed in Chinese interests, and the interests of the other countries in the Asian-Pacific region, that our countries work more closely together to establish rules of the road, create greater confidence about what our expectations are - that is what we are seeking to do with sustained dialogue," he said.

China has said the United States should not be involved in regional disputes over the South China Sea.  But, Campbell says the people of Asia want U.S. involvement.

"American ingenuity, American inventiveness, the openness of the American labor market, you could go through all of our weaknesses, but I would stack it against our strengths anytime.  And, I think there is a general recognition that you underestimate American power at your peril.  And, I think it is the duty of this generation of Americans to fulfill that optimism that Asians have in us, frankly, sometimes more than we have in ourselves.  If you really want to hear good news and a sense of what America can accomplish, talk to young people in Asia," he said.

The most recent incident in the South China Sea involved China detaining a Vietnamese vessel accused of fishing with explosives.  Vietnam denied the charge and demanded the boat's release.  China freed the boat from a Chinese port on October 11.

A Chinese patrol boat later towed the vessel to the disputed Paracel archipelago after its engine failed.  The small chain of islands is claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.


Jim Stevenson

For over 35 years, Jim Stevenson has been sharing stories with the world on the radio and internet. From both the field and the studio, Jim enjoys telling about specific events and uncovering the interesting periphery every story possesses. His broadcast career has been balanced between music, news, and sports, always blending the serious with the lighter side.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs