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East Asia's Territorial Disputes

From VOA Learning English, welcome to Economic News in Special English. Economic growth in East Asia and the Pacific region is expected to reach 7.9 percent this year. That is higher than in any other part of the world. But that is only part of the story.

The other side of East Asia's success includes conflicting territorial claims in the area and trade imbalances with the rest of the world. Competition for natural resources is an increasingly important issue. This has led to territorial disputes.

For example, the islands known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan are thought to be rich in oil. Areas around the islands are said to be good fishing grounds. China and Japan have competing claims for the territory. Kenneth Lieberthal is an Asia expert with the Brookings Institution here in Washington. He says he has not seen evidence that either China or Japan is willing to reduce tensions over the islands. That means territorial disputes will likely continue.

China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines are involved in territorial claims with neighbors over West Pacific islands. Trade imbalances are another issue. East Asia has long been a source of exports. China's big trade imbalance with the United States has concerned U.S. lawmakers for years.

Some blame China's control of its currency for America's big trade deficit. But Kenneth Leiberthal does not think so. He notes other policies. One is China's direct support for many of its important industries with government aid, or subsidies. Mr. Lieberthal says Chinese rules at home also hurt countries seeking to export to China. He says these and other issues such as the abuse of intellectual property rights have a much bigger effect on America's trade deficit with China.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 08Feb2013)