【英语中国】中国在南海问题上言辞趋缓

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所属分类:双语中国

2010-10-15 03:53

小艾摘要: China and its Asian neighbors as well as the U.S. are taking tentative steps to ease tensions after months of escalating turmoil over competing territorial and maritime claims.Vietnam said Tuesday tha ...
China and its Asian neighbors as well as the U.S. are taking tentative steps to ease tensions after months of escalating turmoil over competing territorial and maritime claims.

Vietnam said Tuesday that China had released nine Vietnamese fishermen it detained near disputed islands in the South China Sea, and U.S. officials said they believed Beijing may be rethinking its approach to the sensitive area.

The moves follow steps by China and Japan to ease tensions over a naval collision last month between vessels from the two nations near East China Sea islands that are claimed by both countries.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, attending an Asia defense summit in Hanoi, said competing claims and disputes in the South China Sea appeared to be a 'growing challenge to regional stability and prosperity,' but pointed to what he called encouraging initial signs of progress toward setting binding ground rules to avoid miscommunication and conflict.

At Tuesday's gathering in Hanoi of defense chiefs from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, the U.S. and six other countries raised concerns about disputes in the South China Sea. But senior U.S. officials who attended the closed-door session said China's response appeared muted, at least initially, in contrast to a July session in which Beijing reacted with hostility to similar U.S. language.

A senior U.S. defense official said the Chinese, at least in some recent meetings, appeared to have 'backed away' from characterizing the South China Sea as a 'core' interest and may be seeking to find 'other ways to articulate their approach' to the disputed waters.

Officials at China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs had no immediate comment. Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie said in a speech to the Asean conference that Beijing is open to regional security cooperation.

'China pursues a defense policy that is defensive in nature,' he said, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. Participants said he didn't directly refer to South China Sea disputes in the speech.

Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei each claim parts of the potentially oil- and gas-rich South China Sea. Beijing effectively claims almost the whole maritime area. The seven countries that raised South China Sea concerns at the Asean meeting were Australia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam, U.S. officials said.

Earlier this year, Beijing had characterized the South China Sea as one of its 'core national interests' -- on a par with Tibet and Taiwan -- meaning it saw no room for compromise, though some officials have questioned whether that was a formal position.

Washington has sought in recent weeks to contain growing tensions in the region and U.S. officials said they took China's participation in the summit as an encouraging sign that it may be taking a more open-minded approach, though they remained cautious.

The U.S. officials provided few details about how they reached their conclusion that the Chinese leadership may be rethinking how to address South China Sea disputes. In the past, U.S. officials have acknowledged their limited ability to assess Beijing's intentions because of the government's secrecy and opaque decision-making process, and Mr. Gates has pointed to signs of a rift between China's military and its political leadership on other issues.

'It does appear that the countries that are concerned about [South China Sea disputes] are trying to think their way and feel their way towards a more positive approach, towards a more constructive approach,' the senior U.S. defense official told reporters traveling with Mr. Gates.

'We feel like. . .there is less of a sense of immediate crisis today,' the official added.

Senior U.S. officials sought to play down Washington's future role in trying to sort out competing claims in the South China Sea. The U.S. is prepared to offer help to the parties but doesn't expect to play a direct mediating role, they said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton infuriated Beijing in July when she told an Asean meeting in Hanoi that the U.S. had a national interest in freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

At Tuesday's Asean meeting, Mr. Gates echoed her comments, warned against trying to settle the maritime disputes using force or coercion, and said the U.S. will continue to exercise its right to operate in international waters and conduct military exercises with allies, a sore point for Beijing. But he stopped short of criticizing China directly.

In a meeting Monday with his counterpart, Mr. Liang, Mr. Gates appeared to seek to keep a lid on simmering U.S.-China tensions by not explicitly raising the South China Sea issue. Mr. Gates said the bilateral talks centered instead on what he described as the importance of re-establishing military ties.

China froze military relations in January to protest Washington's decision to sell up to $6.4 billion in arms to Taiwan, which appeared to remain the biggest hurdle for Beijing to establishing more stable ties with the U.S.

在领土及领海主权争端导致紧张关系不断升级几个月后,中国与其亚洲邻国及美国正在采取试探性举措来缓解紧张气氛。

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images美国国防部长盖茨与出席亚洲国防峰会的各国首脑会晤。越南周二说,中国已经释放了它在南中国海有争议岛屿附近拘押的九名越南渔民,美国官员说,他们认为北京也许在重新思考它对待南中国海这一敏感地区的方式。

此前,中国和日本已采取措施缓和因两国船只相撞引发的紧张气氛。上月,两国船只在东中国海双方均宣称拥有主权的岛屿附近相撞。

正在河内出席亚洲国防峰会的美国国防部长盖茨(Robert Gates)说,南中国海地区的主权争端对地区稳定和繁荣而言似乎正成为一个越来越大的挑战,但他也谈到出现了被他称作是令人鼓舞的初步迹象,这些迹象显示,有关各方在设定具有约束力的基本准则以避免误解和冲突方面正取得进展。

在周二于河内举行的东盟国防部长会议上,美国及其他六国对南中国海的争端表示了担忧。不过据参加闭门会议的美国高级官员说,中国的反应看起来很温和,至少初看起来是这样,相比之下,在7月份的一次会议上,北京对美国类似的言论则表现出了敌视情绪。

一位美国高级国防官员说,至少在最近的某些会议上,中国人似乎已从宣布南中国海是中国“核心”利益的立场上“后退”,他们或许正试图寻找其他方式来表达对于有争议水域的立场。

中国外交部的官员没有即刻置评。中国国防部长梁光烈在东盟大会的一次演讲中说,北京对于区域性安全合作持开放态度。

据官方媒体新华社报导,梁光烈说,中国奉行的国防政策本质上是防御性的。与会人员说,他在讲话中没有直接提及南中国海的争端。

越南、台湾、马来西亚、菲律宾和文莱均宣称对油气储量丰富的南中国海部分区域拥有主权。北京实际上宣称对几乎整片海域拥有主权。美国官员说,在东盟会议上对南中国海局势表示担忧的七个国家为澳大利亚、日本、韩国、马来西亚、新加坡、美国和越南。

今年早些时候,中国称南中国海为其“核心国家利益”的一部分,将其置于与西藏和台湾同等位置,这意味着没有任何妥协余地,但有些官员对这是否为官方立场有所质疑。

美国近几周致力于遏制该地区的紧张局势,美国官员说,他们认为中国参加峰会是一个良好的迹象,表明中国可能正采取更开放的态度,虽然中国仍表现得十分谨慎。

美国官员未能提供什么具体证据来支持其结论,即中国领导层可能正在重新思考如何解决南中国海争端。美国官员承认,由于中国政府秘密的、不透明的决策机制,以往他们在评估北京的意图方面能力有限;盖茨指出,有迹象显示中国军方和中国的政治领导人在其他问题上有分歧。

与盖茨同行的那位国防部高级官员告诉记者,关注南中国海争端的国家似乎确实在试图用更为积极、更有建设性的方式来思考解决办法。

他还说,我们觉得目前立即爆发危机的气氛减弱了。

美国高官试图淡化美国未来在解决南中国海主权争端中的作用。他们说,美国准备为各方提供帮助,但不会担任直接调停人的角色。

国务卿希拉里•克林顿(Hillary Clinton)7月份在河内召开的东盟会议上的讲话激怒了中国,她说美国在南中国海的自由航行方面有国家利益。

在周二的东盟会议上,盖茨发表了类似观点,他警告说,美国反对试图利用武力或强制手段来解决南中国海争端,并说美国将继续行使其在国际海域航行和与同盟国举行军事演习的权力,这刺激了中国的痛处。但他不再对中国提出直接批评。

在周一与中国国防部长梁光烈的会谈中,盖茨似乎有意压制逐渐升温的中美紧张关系,并未明确提出南中国海问题。盖茨说美中双边会谈应集中讨论他所说的重建两国军事关系的重要性这一问题。

中国在1月份冻结了与美国的军事关系,以抗议美国向台湾出售价值达64亿美元武器的决定,美国对台军售似乎仍是中国与美中建立更稳固关系的最大障碍。

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