Last October, during a visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung promised to buttress “political trust” between the two South China Sea (SCS) claimants. Last week, while I was speaking at a conference in Da Nang, Vietnam where the Chinese were visibly absent, verbal accusations were flying both on land and in the media. The proximate cause of tensions is the placement of Haiyang Shiyou 981 (HS-981) deep-sea drilling platform inside Vietnam’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. Since that unilateral maneuver in early May, China has created a cordon sanitaire around the rig by deploying military, coast guard, and fishing vessels in three concentric patrol circles. To date, a Vietnamese fishing vessel has been sunk and China has made unsubstantiated claims that Vietnamese boats have hit Chinese vessels on more than 1,400 occasions. Dueling videos are currently on the internet.