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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More