News / Asia

US, South Korea Announce 'Show of Force'

The United States and South Korea formally announced Tuesday they will conduct naval exercises in the Yellow Sea, between China and the Korean Peninsula, in spite of Chinese government objections.  The announcement was made following a meeting between U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his South Korean counterpart, Kim Tae-young.

According to a joint statement, the first of a series of exercises will begin Sunday in the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean Peninsula.  It will involve the U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington, about 20 American and South Korean warships and numerous aircraft.  Officials call this a "large scale" exercise, but say final decisions have not yet been made about additional naval and air maneuvers planned for the Yellow Sea, between the Korean Peninsula and China.

The Chinese government has strongly objected to that plan, saying such a move will raise tensions and threaten its vital interests.

A South Korean rear admiral, Kim Kyung Sik, describes the exercises as a "formidable show of force" and "a clear warning to North Korea."

The commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Admiral Robert Willard, told reporters in Seoul the exercises are designed to signal "intolerance" for the sinking of the South Korean Navy vessel Cheonan in March, killing 46 sailors.  An international investigation blamed North Korea, but it denies involvement. Willard says the United States and South Korea have chosen not to respond with military moves several times when North Korea has carried out various attacks over the years and provocative tests of its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons capabilities.

"This is a show of force intended to send a signal to North Korea with regard to what has occurred.  And, it is intended also to signal the region the resolve of this alliance and our commitment to one another and the scope and scale of our ability to operate together," said Willard.

The exercises will include practice defending against submarine attacks, such as the one that allegedly sank the South Korean ship.

The top U.S. military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, says such exercises are important, particularly in the sensitive and difficult to navigate international waters between the Chinese and Korean coasts, where the Cheonan attack happened.

"The anti-submarine area, finding submarines, is a difficult military undertaking in any warfare community, in any service. And then, operating specifically in the West Sea, in that water, is much more demanding than in the East Sea.  So that's why it's important that these exercises be done jointly and constantly," said Mullen.  "You have to stay current. You have to do it all the time."

U.S. officials acknowledge these exercises may not convince North Korea to change its policies, and they express some frustration at the difficulty of influencing the country's leaders on many issues. They call these exercises a "first step" designed to show North Korea its "behavior has to change." And they say, although these exercises were planned to respond to the ship sinking, there is nothing unusual about American forces operating in the area.  

Former Bush administration official Stephen Yates says China should consider joint exercises a relatively light response to a ship sinking, which many consider an act of war.

"If a Chinese vessel had been attacked and sunk, what would their people be demanding by way of a show of force?  I think that South Koreans wanting to have this kind of a joint exercise is quite mild actually," said Yates.

Northeast Asia researcher Denny Roy, of the East-West Center in Hawaii, is not surprised at China's objections to the exercises.

"China is, of course, not going to be happy about military exercises conducted by a potential adversary, to put it bluntly, near the Chinese coast," said Roy.

But Roy says China made a mistake by objecting so strongly to the American and South Korean plan.

"I think it was, frankly, rather ill-advised of the Chinese to put themselves in the position of specifically warning the United States not to carry out this exercise, particularly given that the Chinese are partly responsible for the sense of heightened security risk in the region because of North Korea's actions," he said.  "The Chinese come out losers in this particular episode, having specifically warned against the United States doing this and putting their prestige and credibility on the line, but then having been rebuffed by the Unite States' going ahead with the plan."

The U.S. Pacific commander, Admiral Willard, says China was not consulted about the military exercise plan and he is not worried that China might extend the suspension of military relations with the United States, as a result. Rather, he says his concern is that China should use its influence to convince North Korea not to conduct such attacks in the future.

You May Like

Taiwan President Sounds Warning on Future of China Ties

Current Taiwan government has eased once dangerously tough relations with Beijing since 2008, but next year’s presidential election could change that course More

US Presidential Candidates Woo Hispanic Voters

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton reached out to Hispanic voters this past week in a bid to boost their voter support More

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Documentary is a close-up and personal view of young woman who has become of global symbol of courage and inspiration More

This forum has been closed.
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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs