‘Maritime disputes could lead to war’


MANILA, Philippines—China’s maritime disputes with countries like the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea are increasingly raising anxieties among their neighbors that the row could lead to armed conflict, according to a poll survey released by a US research group two weeks ago.

A study conducted in 44 countries by the Pew Research Center found that “this year, in all 11 Asian nations polled, roughly half or more say they are concerned that the disputes between China and her neighbors will lead to a military conflict.”

The study, reported online by the Agence France-Presse, found that at 93 percent, Filipinos were most concerned, followed by the Japanese at 85 percent, the Vietnamese at 84 percent and the South Koreans at 83 percent. Even in China, the poll showed that 62 percent of the public were worried that the row could lead to armed conflict.

The Philippines and Vietnam are currently at the center of an acrimonious controversy, with China fueled by the aggressive assertions of its territorial claims.

Territorial row

According to Pew, Beijing and Hanoi in particular are embroiled in an increasingly heated territorial row, sparked by China’s placement last May of a major oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam in the Paracel Islands. But China has also encountered rising tensions with Japan and the Philippines, both of which claim that Beijing has taken inappropriate steps in the East and South China Seas, where Vietnclaims of several island chains are under dispute.