China ‘Internationalizes’ South China Sea Dispute


China effectively internationalized its dispute with Vietnam over an oil rig in the South China Sea on Monday by submitting its claim against Hanoi to the UN Secretary General.

As Shannon reported yesterday, on Sunday China’s Foreign Ministry released a statement entitled, The Operation of the HYSY 981 Drilling Rig: Vietnam’s Provocation and China’s Position, which criticized Vietnam’s alleged provocations over the oil rig and provided the “most comprehensive outline to date of China’s claims to the Paracel Islands.”

Late Monday, that statement was posted on the website of China’s permanent mission to the United Nations. According to the Associated Press, on Monday China’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Wang Min, sent the paper to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and asked him to circulate it among all members of the UN General Assembly.

On the surface, China’s decision to raise the dispute at the United Nations is rather puzzling. After all, China has repeatedly and consistently criticized other claimants in its various maritime disputes, as well as third parties like the United States, for what China claims are attempts to “internationalize” the issue. Actions that won criticism from China included merely raising the issue at regional forums like the Shangri-La Dialogue or summits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In addition, Beijing has refused to respond to the case the Philippines has filed with the UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration over Manila’s own territorial disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea.


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