News / Asia

US Concerned about Chinese Troops Plans on Disputed Island

China's decision to establish a military base on a contested island in the South China Sea is prompting fears of an escalation in one of the world's most disputed bodies of water.

Beijing announced earlier this week that it will place troops in the newly formed city of Sansha in the Paracel Islands. Beijing declared the establishment of Sansha last month to administer the nearby waters, portions of which are also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries.

The United States on Tuesday became the latest government to voice concern over the plan, which has already been rejected by the governments in Hanoi and Manila.

"We remain concerned should there be any unilateral moves of this kind that would seem to prejudge an issue that we have said repeatedly can only be solved by negotiations, by dialogue, and by a collaborative diplomatic process among all the claimants," said State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland.

U.S. Senator John McCain called the move "unnecessarily provocative," saying such action reinforces why many Asian countries are increasingly concerned about China's territorial claims.

China has been accused by its neighbors of becoming increasingly bold about its claims in the South China Sea, which is thought to hold large oil and natural gas deposits.

Don Emmerson, director of the Southeast Asia Forum at Stanford University, tells VOA that China's behavior can partly be traced to a new nationalistic assertiveness that has resulted from its emerging economic power.

"One of the objectives that China would appear to be following is to increasingly reduce the influence of the American naval presence in the South China Sea," says Emmerson. "One would even suggest that those within the People's Liberation Army who are among the most vehement nationalists on this issue would like to see the South China Sea actually become a Chinese lake."

China claims nearly all of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer region, which is also claimed in part by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

A study published this week by the International Crisis Group said the likelihood of a major conflict remains low, but warned that the dispute has reached an "impasse" and said "all of the trends are in the wrong direction."

The report was released after ASEAN, a 10-member Southeast Asian regional grouping of nations, did not agree on a code of conduct to uniformly resolve the maritime disputes at a regional summit in Cambodia last month.

The report says China has "worked actively" to exploit divisions among Southeast Asian nations, giving preferential treatment to those who support its position in the dispute.

China has insisted on dealing with the disputes on a country-by-country basis, rather than by confronting the regional bloc as a whole.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Briny from: USA
July 25, 2012 3:47 PM
So the Politburo has elected to resolve the dispute by quiet seizure and occupation? Shades of the worst of the Bad Old Colonialists..welcome to the new reality.

by: Joe Black from: USA
July 25, 2012 2:42 PM
It was Vietnam and the Philippines started the fire by passing the law to claim all of the islands. They are small countries but with big, greedy appetites.

If these tiny countries could bully the cr*p out of China, who else (especially the US) will not come along to incite more fires to burn China down?!
In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
July 26, 2012 7:07 AM
China is a permanent member of U.N. and is blocking any international arbitration on South China Sea issue. China always plays the victim while being the wolf in disguise.
In Response

by: RR from: Philippines
July 26, 2012 1:16 AM
Joe, you might want to check on the map showing the area which China is claiming to be theirs. Maybe you also might want to check the International Law of the Sea and understand better where these countries are coming from.
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 25, 2012 7:18 PM
Hoang, don't lie again. you said: "China has no basis to claim these islands but an old Mongolian map". What a joke!!! China has much more basises and proofs than your country - Vienan to prove Xisha (Paracel) and Nansha (Spratly) belong to China. You also said "...take the dispute to international arbitration". Anybody can imagine the united nations controlled by US and its western followers who treats China as the biggest competitor of US will give the fair result to China? It's impossible!!! Even US didn't join and is not willing to join United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in order to maximize their own benefits. Is this kind of country (US) qualified to require China to follow United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea??? No, never!!! South China Sea has been called and is being called for hundreds of years by all countries of the world, but Hilary Clinton, the secretary of US, publicly called South China Sea as "West Philipine Sea" in an important international meeting on the second day after Philipine passed the law to change the name of South China Sea to "West Phollipine Sea". Anybody can imagine such a country(US) can fairly treat this disputes in South China Sea??? Impossible!!! That's why China is not willing to let United Nations solve this disputes. After all, US and its western countries controlled the United Nations.
In Response

by: James from: Johnson
July 25, 2012 4:15 PM
Bully the crap out of China? LOL if anything China's doing the bullying.
In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
July 25, 2012 3:21 PM
Joe Black,
you must be Chinese in disguise. China has no basis to claim these islands but an old Mongolian map. There is historical evidence that Hoang Sa( Paracel) and Truong Sa(Spratly) islands belong to Vietnam. Vietnam wants to take the dispute to international arbitration. China wants to negotiate bilaterally to bully smaller countries. It is China who is greedy and claim entire East Sea. Read the article.

by: KeenZu from: China
July 25, 2012 2:30 PM
Obama... what a joke... and the Chinese know it well... you should have seen how we laughed when the Saudi "king" gave Obama a gold chain... like a low slave...
In Response

by: Dong from: Vietnam
July 26, 2012 6:07 AM
Hey guys, what are you disputing for? Do you love peace? Or you are patriots? If the Governments send you there to live forever, will you go? Forget all the evidence from ancient docs you gave, all countries should sit together and see the reality.
Anonymous, you see China's territorial claim on sea fair for other neighbor countries? Haiz!!!! You, yourself are not fair at all!
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 26, 2012 1:47 AM
China's doing all this because of the many internal problems right now in the country. Many CCP members are retiring this year and their economy is slowing down. It's all part of their ploy to pass their problems to others by having an aggressive military to increase nationalism in the country.
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