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

US Companies Pledge Action on Climate Change

Goals include reducing emissions by as much as 50 percent, reducing water usage by 80 percent, and buying 100 percent renewable energy

IMF Bets on China’s Resolve to Reform

IMF announcement already raising questions about just how much Beijing is committed to such reforms

UNICEF: Hidden Epidemic of HIV Among Adolescents

Researchers warn that Asia Pacific nations facing sharp rise in incidence of HIV among adolescents

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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs