News / Asia

Ukraine Developments Loom Over Obama Trip to Asia

Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asiai
X
William Ide
April 21, 2014 3:42 PM
President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Ukraine Developments Loom Over Obama Trip to Asia
William Ide
President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns about Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors.
 
Ukraine may seem far removed from events unfolding in one of the world's most dynamic regions, a key driver of the global economy, but it is clearly on the minds of U.S. officials.
 
Speaking at a security conference in Indonesia last month, Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, talked about the need for all countries in the region to work to avoid a Crimea type situation in the Pacific.
 
President Obama's Trip to Asia, IntineraryPresident Obama's Trip to Asia, Intinerary
x
President Obama's Trip to Asia, Intinerary
President Obama's Trip to Asia, Intinerary
Earlier in April, Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, told U.S. lawmakers that sanctions the U.S. and European Union placed on Russia should have a chilling effect on anyone in China who might be thinking about using Crimea as a model.
 
He also said the sanctions put pressure on China to show it is committed to peaceful resolution of its disputes in the region.
 
Over the past two years, China has put increasing pressure on Japan in a dispute over islands in the East China Sea. It has sent coast guard patrols and drones to assert its claims. Late last year, it unilaterally announced an air defense identification zone, which includes the islands.
 
Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political scientist at Hong Kong Baptist University, said there is clearly a temptation for Beijing to try and alter the status quo. But, he added, there are big differences between China's disputes in Asia and what has happened on the Crimean peninsula.
 
"For one thing, Japan is a U.S. ally, there is a security treaty between Japan and the U.S., which compels the U.S. to intervene. China knows it, I think even more so today because the U.S. Obama administration has sent a number of very clear signals, clearer and clearer signals to China that the U.S. will be involved in any armed conflict around the Senkakus," said Cabestan.
 
Still, Cabestan said, it is hard to predict whether China may ultimately take inspiration from what Russia did in Crimea.
 
When it comes to the dispute over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China, Beijing's options are limited.
 
Japan controls the islands and attempts to even land on them in the past by Chinese activists have not lasted long.
 
Xie Tao, a political scientist at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said that if the Chinese government was to support some sort of effort by fishermen or others to land on the islands for a period of time and then proclaim sovereignty, it may backfire.
 
"Everybody knows that the islands cannot sustain any long term human settlement and if you did that it would obviously be a trap that would be set up by the Chinese government that would only incur international criticism and international condemnation," said Xie.
 
The United States says it does not take sides in the disputes, be it in the East or South China Sea. However, Washington's effort to re-balance its position in the region by shoring up diplomatic, economic, political and security ties has raised concerns in China.
 
Some here see that effort, or "pivot to Asia" as it is called, as an attempt to contain Beijing's rise. They also argue that Washington's actions are emboldening its allies in the region to raise tensions.
 
Just days before President Obama embarks on his trip, Japan announced a decision to expand its military footprint, deploying troops and radar to an island near the disputed area in the East China Sea.
 
China says it is seeking to peacefully resolve its disputes in the region and has accused Japan of hyping regional threats to justify its military expansion.
 
Japan will be the first stop on President Obama's four-nation tour of the region, which includes visits to South Korea and two other Southeast Asian nations that have territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea - the Philippines and Malaysia.
 
Last year, a government shutdown in Washington forced President Obama to cancel his attendance at the APEC leaders summit. Cabestan said this year's trip is part of an effort to pick up from where he left off.
 
"Obama wants to repair his non-visit, his non-participation to the APEC summit in Indonesia in the fall last year… That created some frustration and some I think unease in Asia particularly among U.S. allies, because it gave the occasion for China to sort of run the show in place of Obama," said Cabestan.
 
Political scientist Xie Tao said Beijing will be watching closely to see what Obama does to reassure his allies in the region, whether he plays the role of peacemaker by promoting regional stability or plays up negative perceptions about China.
 
"I would hope that he would do something to assuage China's suspicions that he is not really here to contain China,” said Xie.
 
One key test of that, Xie added, will be Obama's stop in Malaysia. The stop in Malaysia will be the first for a U.S. president in nearly five decades and comes at a time when relations between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing are under tremendous strain following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

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