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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs