WASHINGTON – China’s neighbors are increasingly anxious that Beijing’s maritime disputes with countries like Vietnam and the Philippines will lead to military conflict, a US research group said in findings released Monday.
Even in China itself, polling showed that 62 percent of the public worried that territorial disputes between China and its neighbors could lead to an armed conflict, according to a broad study conducted in 44 countries by the Pew Research Center.
“This year in all 11 Asian nations polled, roughly half or more say they are concerned that territorial disputes between China and its neighbors will lead to a military conflict,” the study found.
At 93 percent, Filipinos were most concerned, followed by the Japanese at 85 percent, Vietnamese at 84 percent, and South Koreans at 83 percent, according to Pew.
Beijing and Hanoi in particular are embroiled in an increasingly heated territorial row, the latest chapter of which was sparked by China’s positioning of a major oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam.
But the Asian giant has also seen tensions rise with Japan and the Philippines, both of which claim Beijing has taken inappropriate steps in the East and South China Seas, where claims of several island chains are under dispute.