News / Asia

US Warns China at Asia Security Forum

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, talks with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, right, as they wait for South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin to arrive to begin their meeting, Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Singapore.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, talks with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, right, as they wait for South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin to arrive to begin their meeting, Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Singapore.
— At Asia’s largest security forum, China found itself on the defensive with top officials from several countries, including the United States, Japan and Vietnam, calling on Beijing to moderate its behavior amid maritime territorial disputes in the region.  

China was the target of unusually blunt remarks from the U.S. defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, who spoke of a modern world with no boundaries and great opportunities but also “great threats.”

Hagel, in a public speech at a conference in Singapore, noted “China has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea.”

“The United States will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged. We will uphold those principals,” he said.

The United States, as Hagel reiterated, takes no stance on the merits of rivals’ territorial claims in the disputed waters.

The defense secretary pointed out China’s restricting the Philippines' access to a shoal, its beginning of land reclamation at various maritime locations and placing an oil rig in waters disputed by both China and Vietnam.

Hagel’s speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue (organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies) brought quick condemnation from a top Chinese military official.

China Central Television (CCTV) quotes Wang Guanzhong, the deputy chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, criticizing the American official for making such remarks in public in a speech Wang termed “full of hegemony, incitement, threats and intimidation.”

The Xinhua news agency quoted Chinese President Xi Jinping telling Malaysia’s prime minister, in a meeting Friday in Beijing, that China will not initiate aggressive action in the South China Sea but will respond if other countries do.

Hagel, in his speech at the Singapore forum, also made an appeal to Beijing for cooperation to confront the threat coming from Pyongyang.  
 
“We must also work more closely together to guard against North Korea’s destabilizing provocations and its nuclear and ballistic missile programs which threaten regional stability and China’s own interests," he said. "The United States is looking to China to play a more active and constructive role in meeting this challenge.”  

Reacting to the coup here in Thailand, the U.S. defense secretary called on the country’s generals to restore "power to the people…through free and fair elections."

The United States has already cut military cooperation with the country and is reconsidering additional defense assistance and engagement programs.  

Japan’s defense minister, Itsunori Onodera, in his speech to the Singapore conference called for dialogue with China on territorial disputes in the East China Sea.

Onodera says it is not a question of whether to hold talks with China, as an important neighbor of Japan. Rather he says, Tokyo’s perspective, which has been communicated to Beijing, is that if there are differences then there should be a place to have a proper dialogue.

The conference has made clear Japan’s desire to take on a bigger international security role, despite lingering bitter feelings in Asia towards it because of its aggression in the early 20th century and the country’s post-Second World War pacifist constitution.  

The remarks from Japanese officials came as its coast guard said two Chinese coast guard ships entered waters around one of the Japanese-administered Senkakus, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyu islands. It is the 12th entry of official Chinese vessels into the disputed waters this year.

The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, earlier (Friday evening) told the Singapore forum his government will offer its "utmost support" to Southeast Asian countries as they seek to protect their seas and airspace, mostly against China.  

Vietnam’s defense minister, speaking of a regional trust deficit, reiterated his government’s demand for China to remove an oil rig from disputed waters.

General Phung Quang Thanh, addressing the Shangri-La Dialogue, called for  territorial issues in the South China Sea to be solved through international law and existing agreements. The general says Vietnamese forces, so far, have exercised restraint.  

Thanh says Vietnam is looking at the possibility of international arbitration to solve its dispute with China but that would “only be a last resort.”

The defense minister also is indicating Hanoi’s willingness to allow the rotation of foreign military assets at the deep water Cam Ranh Bay, which in the past was used by U.S. forces and, subsequently, the Russian navy.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

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by: giger from: FLL ,Florida
June 03, 2014 10:18 PM
China has a regime a like stalin and alike Mr dogpoo =Jong-UN …and Russia Mr Puytin. Just brutalizers! So ,for us the equation is simple, stay ahead in the arm's race , we have no other choice. Else, we could wind up in a force labor camp for 3 generations per case of political oponism .


by: donavon from: charlotte, nc
June 02, 2014 4:20 PM
China is so ridiculous. Although China is large they are very much so not on the level of thus US. They could never be the America of asia with their violation of human rights of their own people and people in the region. It also bothers me when people day the US "owes" china because of our debt. I don't think we owe them anything. It seems like everyone has forgotten how the US gave them their country back from the Japanese. We rescued them and gave them their country back without asking for compensation. We honestly should have just kept the territories japan conquered for our own economic interests. It would ave probably been better for both countries economically and for the people (more so china). Then China wants to express how the US needs to mind our business and remain out of that regions affairs? Don't forget China, years ago when the Japanese were invading you, you slaughtered over half a million of your own people in hopes of getting the attention of someone from the outside, like the US to fight off the Japanese.. Also the politics of Asia are going to change so much in the future. The more China continues to display this aggression in the region, the more the world and the US see it necessary to allow Japan to have a military in order to protect the interests of the US in the region. This is what is needed in the region to keep balance. There are talks going down right now so things are definitely gonna change soon.

In Response

by: Plain Mirror Intl from: Plain Planet - Africa
June 03, 2014 3:28 AM
Infact, another name for the US is WARNING! It is irritating, very irritating! Always the US warns! The BEAST of the end time displaying the biblical prophesy and the answer satan the devil gave to Jesus Christ of Nazaret (the Yashua Messiah), that he the devil is moving round the world. Yes, what does the US do... ? moving round the world, intruding in other country's domestic affairs, projecting itself like the messiah, whereas there is blasphemy on its forehead. Every nation that is quick to embrace the US life style would have itself to blame when the US will bring forth its plan of doom for mankind. Yet, in all the whole world may pass away, but the word of God Almighty Jehovah would not pass away; It must come to pass! US is the Beast, and the anti-christ on the throne.

In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
June 02, 2014 7:17 PM
I think you made mistakes there! America attacked Japan not for the China's rescue, not at all. America actually was enjoying making money from selling weapons to Japan. However, stupid Japan attacked the Pearl Harbor first.
It's ok my American friend, yes why didn't just let Japan bomb your entires navy out? Keep selling them weapons and oil, so Japan could bomb more of your cities!
I heard Americans are dum b, but didn't realize they are actually brainless, lol


by: Igor from: Russia
June 02, 2014 4:58 AM
China is never a peace loving country in history. China today is the result of constant wars, invasions and swallows of weaker countries to creat the biggest one. China is always invading its neighbors when it is strong. Throughout history China was only invaded two times: by Mongolia and by some Western countries (Qing dynasty). China is traditionally shifty and devious in nature. They have used that traditional nature to win the wars and to invade countless countries in thousand year history. China often describe itself as being reliable, peace-loving but they are always proved to be the opposite. Dirty cheats are China's main strategy for success throughout history. Fortunately, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Mongolia...have managed to escape from China's invasions. China has no ally because it cheats every country including Russia. China often buys Russia advanced weapons to illegally copy them and then sells the copies to other countries in other names and at a cheaper prices.
Mr. Putin must be careful in dealing with China because of its deceiving nature.

In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
June 02, 2014 7:12 PM
Interesting, did you support the Russia's annexation of Crimea? Do you support Putin?
OMG, how could you criticize China's putting an oil rig in China sea, but support the annexation of Crimea? That just beyond me!


by: Harry from: Australia
June 02, 2014 1:24 AM
China's basis for claims on SChina sea is based on the logic that Chinese vessels sailed these seas in the early days of their dynasties.Their civilization being one of the older ones entitles them to lay claim where they have been or when there are no claimants as is the Antartic or the Moon.China is simply bluffing and bullying its smaller neighbours with no actual basis for any claims other than changing the status quo in its advantage.About time this chinese attitude changes and it might take some muscle and brute force coupled with tough talking to do so.

In Response

by: Anonymous
June 02, 2014 9:33 PM
what is America doing??she is involved in almost any of the hotplaces in every corner of the world.all in all,power is everthing .unfortunately, american is not as strong as she thonght herself to be!!minding your own business is enough.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
June 01, 2014 10:07 PM
It is reported that an Chinese official asked Japanise PM Abe how he feels about having suffered Chinese people during WWII.
Abe answerd clearly it was regrettable and painful for us Japanese adding that he has no more intension to invade into Asian neighbours. I am sure China should now free from the past sufferings because compensation from Japan to China has been completed as described on the corresponding tearty between the two countries. What now China having been operating in South and East China sea looks the same as what theJapanese empire has done in the early 20th century.

In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
June 02, 2014 7:09 PM
Why Korean ppl hates you so much? Why all your neighbors hate you? Don't you think you must have some problems there?

In Response

by: Anonymous
June 02, 2014 8:18 AM
It is your opinions based on ignorance.


by: Big Dog from: Republic of Texas
June 01, 2014 4:10 PM
I don't know if the Chinese are correct when they say that accusations against them by the US are "groundless." By the old colonialist logic, the Philippines and Japan are US client states. In a hierarchy, all lower members are to greater or lesser degree client states.

Vietnam on the other hand is likely more asserting itself against its own higher ups. The Vietnamese are still communist and played a decisive role in the turning of point of declining US hegemony. DPRK too continues to assert itself.

But this should be interpreted in a proper context. DPRK and Vietnam assert themselves from the socialist perspective. They want a greater share in the spoils of war that turned China into a modern superpower with the largest worldwide banks and ranking second globally in GDP.

Besides, the Chinese have always had a greater awareness of their economic status as they relied less on the mysticisms and magic of economic wizardry and a strong understanding of where economic power originates.

A tenuous peace with the Russians was quickly dissolved long ago. Latin America is combative 100% of the time and the Middle East will never forgive. The US has proved that aggression in the long run turns to self harm.

We should be patient and wise like the Chinese and allow their aggressions to flower into their regrets, naturally and harmoniously. To make a big issue of those things there will only bring problems here at home.

The Chinese communists have won the world by playing the capitalist game better than the capitalists. Perhaps Americans could double down and play the communists game better than the Chinese. Perhaps this way early we can reclaim our freedoms and avoid an authoritarian nightmare in the not so distant future.


by: Rohit from: India
June 01, 2014 1:08 PM
At the rate Chinese stake claim to every piece of land and space on earth, they will be writing fake leases for other Nations.

In Response

by: Anonymous
June 02, 2014 9:37 PM
wake up please!!its the americans occupying the most part of the land!!


by: John Smith from: I Hate Fascists
June 01, 2014 8:03 AM
It is laughable to read the comments from China portraying themselves as a peace-loving country which has initiated no 'aggression'.

130-ship armada protecting the oil rig in VN's EEZ !

Repeated ramming of VN Coast Guards

Recent sinking of a VN fishing boat

Blocking the Philippines access to Scarborough Shoal

Fighter jets intimidation of Japanese planes

Repeated incursions by armed ships into Sendaku islands territorial waters

They treat the world like they have been treating their own citizens since 1949 - as uninformed idiots.

Sorry, CCP

Your thuggish behaviour has exposed you to be a fascist wolf without the sheep clothing cover you had used in the last 20 years with your Charm Offensive.

Not ONE country in the world (out of nearly 200) supports your outlandish claims which you are trying to enforce by gunboats.

This is 2014, not 1938 when appeasement was the preferred option.

Your map has NEVER been accepted by anyone on planet earth. So going on repeating 'we have a map' is puerile.

Let's return Americas to Spain now as they have plenty of maps and evidence of ownership ????

Brought up in a society for 4-5 generations with only CCP directives as guiding laws, China has truly lost its senses and any respect for international laws and orders.

Tyrants always believe they must be obeyed as they 'have more guns'.

Hitler used to be like this once.

In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
June 02, 2014 1:26 AM
Oh yeah, America is much more peaceful than China by bombing innocent villagers with drones.
British used warships to conquer the falkland island. Russia occupied Crimea, France is still occupying the pacific archipelago Polynesia.
Only China is evil by sending boats to protect her oil rig only 17 miles from her island.

In Response

by: David Bui
June 01, 2014 9:33 PM
this is so true when you using power bullying smaller country.


by: Tuan from: Vietnam
June 01, 2014 2:00 AM
A lot of Chinese say south china sea belong to China but they have no proof. Nothing good comes out of china but fakes and lies.

The Chinese invaded Vietnam and got kick out at least in the last 400 years.

In 1974 the Chinsed used force to invade Paracel islands from Vietnam. Vietnam is weak now but wait when they get strong China will get kick out again.

In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
June 02, 2014 6:36 AM
To Jonathan,
Here we go again about Taiwan. The difference is thatTaiwan doesn't use gun diplomacy. In the near future, when there is international arbitration for Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Spratly( Truong Sa) Islands disputes, Taiwan will have to return Spratly island that it in took over from South Vietnam in 1974 at end of Vietnam war.
South Vietnam at the time of invasion was ally of U.S. but U.S. wrongly made deal with China and North Vietnam in Paris Peace accord in 1974 to cut off military aid to South Vietnam. That is only reason why South Vietnam lost the Vietnam war.

In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
June 02, 2014 1:30 AM
By democratic Taiwan has all the evidences to prove that South China Sea belongs to republic of China!
Democratic Taiwan is more trustful than viet cong, isn't it?
If democratic Taiwan has the dash line in its text book, that's means the dash line is real. Viet cong needs to get out of this dash line.


by: John Rintala
June 01, 2014 1:13 AM
Everything in the US is falling apart. Wages are in free fall. Infrastructure falling apart. Economic growth is zero or less, but.....the people who run the US think it is our job to stick our noses into just about everyone's squabbles. From the Ukraine, to Central Asia, to Latin America to Africa and to the seas around China that the US would consider as its "lakes" if the situation was reversed. There ain't squat that the US could or should do in the South China Sea. NONE of those countries in the region are going to get into a serious scrap with China. They are all becoming prosperous as the Chinese economic engine pulls them all along. Even Australia is in this situation. So.... Uncle Sam, quit the crap and come home and take care of our own business.

In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
June 02, 2014 6:38 AM
Its lies from Americans like you ie. Snowden that Vietnam war was lost, all jobs went to China and the decline of U.S.

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