News / Asia

Turbulence Remains in South China Sea

Turbulence Remains in South China Sea
Turbulence Remains in South China Sea
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid