Monthly Archives: May 2014

Vietnam, others could haul China into world court: academic

HANOI — Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines could try going to an international court in a coordinated push against China, Trinh Hoa Binh of the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences argued in a recent interview. Tensions between Vietnam and its huge neighbor to the north have run high since Beijing planted an oil rig in a disputed area of the South China Sea. Read more: http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Vietnam-others-could-haul-China-into-world-court-academic

Vietnam accuses China of sinking fishing boat

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) Vietnam and China traded accusations Tuesday over who was the aggressor in a clash that led to the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat in the South China Sea, sharpening tensions already dangerously high after China moved an oil rig into the disputed waters. Hanoi accused a Chinese vessel of ramming the wooden Vietnamese boat Monday then fleeing the scene. Beijing said the Vietnamese boat was trying to get close to the oil rig, rammed into one of its vessels, and then sank. The crew was rescued. The clash occurred around 30 kilometers (18 miles) south-southwest of the large oil rig that China deployed on May 1 in waters both nations claim. The rig deployment infuriated Hanoi and set off violent anti-China protests that further soured ties between the neighboring communist countries with close economic relations. Vietnam sent patrol ships to confront the rig, and China has deployed scores of vessels to protect it. The two sides have been involved in a tense standoff, occasionally colliding with each other. China and Vietnam have long sparred over who owns what in the oil- and gas-rich waters. Incidents between fishing crews are quite common, but Monday’s incident was the first time a Vietnamese boat had been sunk, said Tran Van Linh, president of the Fisheries Association in the central port city of Danang.   Read more: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11262786

If China refuses to face Vietnam at international court, then what?

Since May 1, China has unilaterally deployed its HD-981 rig and many vessels, including military ships, in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf. This action violates Vietnam’s sovereign rights and its jurisdiction over the EEZ of 200 nautical miles and continental shelf. More dangerously, China escalated tensions when its ships, under the support of aircraft, rammed vessels of the Vietnamese coast guard. While Vietnam maintains a policy of restraint and using dialogue to negotiate, China is increasingly expressing its aggression. Therefore, in addition to finding the support of the international community, Vietnam should be “self- reliant”. Facing China’s aggressive acts to push tensions to a climax, Vietnam should set out a strategy for rational and sustainable value . Besides political and diplomatic moves, a solution based on the legal process may be a positive suggestion. Through the principle of voluntary implementation of international commitments (pacta sunt servanda), international law has high practical value. Specifically, international law can help prevent conflict, resolve disputes and promote cooperation in international relations. The universality and binding power of international law has become the preferred choice of many countries in the resolution of disputes and the prevention of conflicts. As China has repeatedly delayed and has been even unwilling to resolve disputes, Vietnam may unilaterally submit the dispute to the arbitral tribunal. Specifically, Vietnam can request the establishment of an arbitral tribunal under Annex VII of the UNCLOS, in case China does not agree to bring the case to the international court of the law of the sea. Read more: http://m.english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/special-reports/103345/if-china-refuses-to-face-vietnam-at-international-court–then-what-.html#

Chinese military building artificial island

MANILA, Philippines – China plans to build a $5-billion artificial island envisioned to be a ”super aircraft carrier” in the Spratlys within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The online news site Qianzhan.com reported that the No. 9 Design and Research Institute of China State Shipbuilding Corp. has come up with a proposed design of the artificial island being reclaimed from the sea in the Chinese-occupied Fiery Cross Reef, south of Mabini Reef (South Johnson Reef). China is building a five-square-kilometer military base three meters above sea level near Fiery Cross Reef. Estimated construction cost is $5 billion to take 10 years to complete, similar to the construction of a 100,000-ton nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The report said the Chinese military has also drawn up plans for occupied Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, located very close to mainland Palawan. “Construction of the two artificial islands at Mischief Reef and Fiery Cross Reef, will be equivalent to that for building an aircraft carrier, but the strategic gains will be very big,” the report said.   Read more: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/05/27/14/chinese-military-building-artificial-island

China Flexes In South China Sea, Sinks Vietnamese Fishing Vessel

A Chinese ship rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat off the coast of Vietnam on Sunday, according to Vietnam’s foreign ministry. Ten fishermen were on board, Vietnam News reported. They were rescued by nearby Vietnamese boats approximately 17 nautical miles from an oil rig owned by China near the Paracel Islands. Anti-China protests took place earlier this month in Vietnam after China built the rig off the coast of Vietnam, and there were skirmishes between coast guard vessels belonging to both countries earlier in the same month. Whereas Vietnam says China is violating international law and stability, China says it owns the territory in which it built the rig. According to Bloomberg News, China is expanding the reach of its navy to support its claims to territory in the South China Sea, which are based on a map devised in 1947. China and Vietnam both claim the Paracel Islands, and the Association of Southeast Asian members Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines have claims to other areas in the South China Sea.   Read more: http://www.ibtimes.com/china-flexes-south-china-sea-sinks-vietnamese-fishing-vessel-1590263

Explaining China’s behaviour in the East and South China Seas

Many people, like my old friend Brad Glosserman, find it hard to understand why China is acting the way it is in the East and South China Seas. What does Beijing hope to achieve by alienating its neighbours and undermining regional stability? Let me suggest an answer: China is trying to build what President Xi Jinping calls ‘a new model of great power relations’. To understand how this might be the aim of Beijing’s actions, we have to recognise that under his ‘new model’, Xi wants China to wield much more power and influence in Asia than it has for the past few centuries. These things are inherently zero-sum, so for China to have more power and influence, America must have less. This is what Xi and his colleagues are trying to achieve. Their reasoning is simple enough. They know that America’s position in Asia is built on its network of alliances and partnerships with many of China’s neighbours. They believe that weakening these relationships is the easiest way to weaken US regional power. And they know that, beneath the flowery diplomatic phrases, the bedrock of these alliances and partnerships is the confidence America’s Asian friends have that America is able and willing to protect them from China’s power. So the easiest way for Beijing to weaken Washington’s power in Asia is to undermine this confidence. And the easiest way to do that is for Beijing to press those friends and allies hard on issues in which America’s own interests are not immediately engaged – like a string of maritime disputes in which the US has no direct stake.

East Sea: Be careful with China’s “win-win” plot

VietNamNet: If Vietnam brings the case to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), what steps should we take? Dr. Ngo Huu Phuoc: To bring the case to the ITLOS, we need to prepare a file for the lawsuit. The documents are compiled by the government or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with political, historical and legal evidence, which is called the lawsuit announcement. Then we send the file to China. If they accept, they have to reply in accordance with the procedures stipulated in the Appendix 7 of the International Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS). This file must be prepared very carefully. We also need a group of legal experts who well understand international law in general and the UNCLOS in particular. VietNamNet: Some have said that on this occasion, Vietnam should bring the disputes over the Paracel and Spratly Islands (disputes over territorial sovereignty) to the court, to resolve under the UNCLOS? Phuoc: I would like to emphasize again that the UNCLOS is not the international legal basis for solving this dispute. The Convention is only applied to solve disputes that arise during the interpretation and implementation of the Convention. For example, for the case of China’s illegal drilling rig, if China says that it is deploying this rig in their waters and their exclusive economic zone according to the UNCLOS, they have misinterpreted because, according to the Convention, that is the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam. We can file a lawsuit against them for that point because they have explained and applied the UNCLOS wrongly. Read more: http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/special-reports/103116/east-sea–be-careful-with-china-s–win-win–plot.html

China’s maritime disputes: Fear, honor and interest

Fueled by China’s growing assertiveness as a rising global power, tensions over territorial disputes have mounted in the Asia-Pacific region. In November last year, Beijing unilaterally expanded its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) to cover most of the East China Sea, triggering a bitter dispute with Tokyo as the ADIZ also covers the airspace above the Japanese-controlled but Chinese-claimed Senkaku/Diayou Islands. China has also thrown its weight around further south, claiming almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Sea and rejecting rival claims to parts of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. Tensions recently escalated between Hanoi and Beijing after China placed a giant oil rig in waters claimed by both countries, with the two communist countries trading accusations of responsibility for aggravating the situation. Ahead of the 13th IISS Asia Security Summit starting on May 30 in Singapore, Dr. William Choong, a Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow for Asia-Pacific Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), says in a DW interview that although neighboring countries have very limited options to restrain China, the probability of a major conflict breaking out in the Asia-Pacific remains low. Read more: http://www.dw.de/chinas-maritime-disputes-fear-honor-and-interest/a-17662983

As Taiwan beefs up prized South China Sea outpost, barely a peep from China

(Reuters) – Taiwan is building a $100 million port next to an airstrip on the lone island it occupies in the disputed South China Sea, a move that is drawing hardly any flak from the most assertive player in the bitterly contested waters – China. The reason, say military strategists, is that Itu Aba could one day be in China’s hands should it ever take over Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province. While Itu Aba, also called Tai Ping, is small, no other disputed island has such sophisticated facilities. Its runway is the biggest of only two in the Spratly archipelago that straddles the South China Sea, and the island has its own fresh water source. “Taipei knows it is the only claimant that (China) will not bother, so it is free to upgrade its facilities on Tai Ping without fear of criticism from China,” said Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the Hawaii-based East-West Center think tank. “China would protect Taiwan’s garrisons if necessary.”     Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/25/us-taiwan-southchinasea-idUSBREA4O0E620140525