China 'Must Not Be
Permitted' to Push Around its Neighbors
says that problems in the South China Sea should be resolved by the two
countries involved - and that the U.S. has no part in these issues. But China is
certainly responsible for raising tensions in the region. As the U.S. has maintained,
problems in the South China Sea should be tackled within a multilateral framework.
As a result of China's
increasingly active maritime presence, confrontations between China, Vietnam
and the Philippines over territorial rights in the South China Sea are
intensifying. Vietnamese have staged anti-China demonstrations, and on June
28, the Philippines launched joint naval exercises with the United States. Taiwan,
which also has territorial claims, is also expected to hold military exercises.
Even in Japan, which is still
busy dealing with the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami,
there has been an atmosphere of imminent military activity. The issue is
certainly not just someone else's problem.
The current tension brings to
mind the friction between Japan and China last autumn over territorial rights
to the Senkaku Islands.
It is clear that China has adopted an expansionist policy in both the East and
South China seas.
Near Japan, between the string
of islands that extend from Kyushu to Taiwan and the Philippines and the line
connecting the Izu Islands, the Ogasawara Islands and Guam, China is thought to
be trying to expand its sphere of influence. It seems that Beijing has taken a
step beyond the policy of the late Deng Xiaoping of modestly hiding its strength.
It now appears that China is seeking to expand its own "inland sea," as
if it were in competition with the United States.
The Vietnam Foreign Ministry said
this month that a Chinese vessel fired a warning shot at a Vietnamese fishing
boat near the Spratly
Islands, and that a Vietnamese research boat within Vietnam's exclusive
economic zone that was conducting a survey of the ocean floor was obstructed by
a Chinese vessel carrying cable-cutting equipment. Then in mid-June, Vietnam
launched a military exercise in the South China Sea using live ammunition, raising
the tension between Vietnam and China.
territorial claims in the South China Sea: China sees
United States meddling, whereas other nations in the region
the U.S. as playing a balancing role.
Furthermore, on June 23, a
Chinese research vessel entered Japan's exclusive economic zone off Miyagi
Such movements by Chinese
vessels cannot be permitted. Undoubtedly, China is eyeing the oil resources in
both the East and South China seas. But as Asia's largest country and a
permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, it must refrain from
sparking disturbances in these peaceful seas.
Also undoubtedly, China has
its own perceptions. It says that problems in the South China Sea should be resolved
by the two countries involved - and that the United States has no part in these
issues. But as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated in the recent Japan-U.S.
2+2 security talks, China is certainly responsible for raising tensions in the
region. Furthermore, critics charge that the firing of warning shots by Chinese
vessels violates the Declaration
on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which China and the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed in 2002.
The first consultations between
the U.S. and China on Asia-Pacific affairs, which were conducted on June 25 between
Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and
Cui Tiankai, China's vice foreign minister, ended without agreement. Nevertheless,
as the United States has maintained, problems in the South China Sea should be
tackled within a multilateral framework.
We hope that Japan and the United
States cooperate closely to address these issues at the ASEAN Regional Forum
and at the East Asia Summit that the U.S. and Russia will attend for the first
time this fall.
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