Archive | May, 2014

China’s South China Sea Play: The End of Beijing’s “Peaceful Rise”? – Ha Anh Tuan – The National Interest

19 May 2014

Over the last decade, China has made every effort to persuade the world that it has been rising peacefully. The term “peaceful rise” was first employed as early as 2003, when Zheng Bijian, the then Vice Principal of the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China delivered a speech at the Boao Forum for Asia. It was then used by Chinese leaders, such as Premier Wen Jiabao, in various international relations contexts.

The main principles of China’s “peaceful rise” theory, which was replaced by “peaceful development” since 2004, are that China will not seek hegemony, its economic and military rise will not pose threats to regional and international peace and stability, and other countries will benefit from China’s growing power and influence. In order for this vision to materialize, Beijing values the role of soft power and contends that promoting good relations with neighboring countries will enhance rather than undermine its comprehensive national power. As such, the peaceful rise thesis emphasizes a cooperative approach towards China’s territorial disputes, including various maritime disputes in the seas around China.

One reason for the emergence of the peaceful rise theory is to counter those who see China as a threat. Speaking broadly, the “China threat theory” argues that, Beijing’s sustained economic growth will enable it to invest in military expansion and modernization. China’s rising power capabilities will shift the regional and international balance of power in it’s favor, threatening the interests and national security of other states. Many in China believe that, this theory is being cultivated by the U.S. as a part of a strategy to contain Beijing’s rise.

Events in the Asia-Pacific since 2007, however, have proven that the China threat theory has been unintentionally cultivated by China itself, as Beijing has been taking an increasingly aggressive approach towards various neighboring countries. Chinese maritime authority vessels have been active in enforcing Beijing’s territorial claims in the East China Sea (EAS) and South China Sea (SCS). They have captured and attacked Southeast Asian fishing ships in their traditional fishing waters, harassed U.S. naval vessels when they operate in the waters in the EAS and SCS, and brutally intervened in incidents in which Chinese fishing vessels were inspected by foreign authorities accused of illegal fishing activities.

Beijing has also made various moves to challenge the status quo in territorial disputes in the SCS. In 2009, China for the first time officially submitted the now infamous nine-dash line. This claimed over 80 percent of the SCS. In 2012, China dispatched numerous vessels to challenge the Philippine presence at Scarborough Shoal and eventually took control over the Shoal. In that same year, it established Sansha city on Woody Island of the Paracels contested by Vietnam, and stationed a military garrison there to protect its territorial claims in the SCS.

From 2011, China’s National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has expanded its reach further southwards, drawing oil blocks for international cooperation inside Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

In the last several weeks tensions have reached even new heights. In one of the most serious incidents in recent years China moved a giant oil rig to a location only 120 miles from Vietnam’s coast. To protect the rig from Vietnam’s maritime authority ships, many Chinese vessels, including several warships have been dispatched to the region. Chinese vessels deliberately rammed Vietnamese ships while they were attempting to approach the rig. The situation is very dangerous, risking further escalation of tensions between the two countries.

China’s behavior can only prove that its “peaceful rise” theory is dead. Beijing’s assertiveness and aggressiveness have driven many of its neighbors away. Only by respecting regional and international peace, security, and international laws can Beijing lessen regional tensions while sustaining its long term-development.

Ha Anh Tuan is a PhD Candidate in Politics and International Relations at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

Image: Wikicommons.

(Source: read more...)

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Filipinos, Vietnamese Protest China in Manila – VOA News

17 May 2014

VOA News – Filipinos and Vietnamese residents in the Philippines have staged a joint protest against China’s incursions into South China Sea territories claimed by their countries.


Filipino activists and Vietnamese nationals display placards and chant anti-China slogans as they march outside the Chinese Consulate in Manila's Makati financial district, May 16, 2014.

Filipino activists and Vietnamese nationals display placards and chant anti-China slogans as they march outside the Chinese Consulate in Manila’s Makati financial district, May 16, 2014.

More than 100 protesters picketed the Chinese consulate Friday in the capital, Manila, demanding that China stop oil drilling in waters claimed by Vietnam.

Chinese and Vietnamese ships have been locked in a standoff since China deployed an oil rig last month in a part of the South China Sea that Vietnam claims is within its exclusive economic zone. The two sides have attacked each other with water cannons, raising fears of an armed military clash.

Manila is protesting Chinese land reclamation on a reef that it says is Philippine territory.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told the Chinese military’s chief of staff, General Fang Fenghui, in Washington Thursday that Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea are dangerous and provocative. Biden told Fang that China must not undermine security and peace.

The dispute has led to anti-Chinese protests in Vietnam, including a riot at a Taiwanese steel plant that killed a Chinese worker and injured 149 other people.

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Joint Statement of Vietnamese Associations in France regarding HD-981

11 May 2014

More than 10 Vietnamese Associations in France released a joint statement recent move of China in the South China Sea. Here is the fulltext of this statement. 


1.   Regarding China’s unilateral bringing of oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 (HD-981) into the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Vietnam on May 2nd, 2014, we, the representatives of the Vietnamese associations in France, had a joint meeting on May 8th, 2014. This unilateral act of China: (i) is a flagrant violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty; (ii) threatens regional security in the South China Sea and (iii) violates the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) concerning the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law.

China flagrantly violates Vietnam’s sovereignty

HD-981, located 120 miles from Vietnam’s coastal line, is entirely within the EEZ of Vietnam. According to the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS 1982), of which China is a member, Vietnam has sovereignty rights and jurisdiction over all exploration and extraction activities in the Vietnam’s EEZ. Also, other countries cannot extract oil in the aforementioned zone without explicit approval of Vietnam. In light of the above, the unilateral act of China is illegal.

China threatens regional security

On May 7th, 2014, China deployed 80 ships, including 7 military ships and 33 coast guard ships, with aerial support, to attack Vietnamese vessels by water cannon. China’s offensive act on Vietnamese vessels conducting responsibilities in conformity with international laws has wounded six Vietnamese fisheries controllers. Such act gravely threatens the security in the South China Sea and in the region.

China disrespects its agreements with ASEAN countries

The aforementioned act of China runs counter to the DOC signed between ASEAN countries and China in 2002. In accordance with the DOC, all parties should not further complicate the disputes and resolve disputes in the South China Sea peacefully and in conformity with international laws.

2.   We call on international community, especially countries which have sovereign claims in the South China Sea, to unite, a strong reaction against the provocation and the expansionism of Chinese administration for a world of peace and sustainable development.


Jointly signed by

Union of Vietnamese in France (UGVF), Association of Vietnamese Scientists and Experts (AVSE), Union of Vietnamese Students in France (UEVF), Association of Civil Engineering, Mechanics, and Materials (GCMM), Association of Engineers and Electrical Engineering (AEEE), Group of Bridges and Roads (CDP), Association of Electrical Electronics Engineering (AEEE), Alliance of Vietnamese Students in France (ADEVF), Union of fellow-countrymen of Ha Tinh in France (UANTF), Association of Vietnamese Architect  in France (AAVF), Research Group on the South East Asia Sea in France (BDTP)

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EU High Representative on the recent escalation of tensions in the South China Sea

10 May 2014

Statement by the Spokesperson of the EU High Representative on South China Sea Tensions, 8 May 2014:

We are concerned about recent incidents involving China and Vietnam relating to the movements of the Chinese oil rig HD981.

In particular, the EU is concerned that unilateral actions could affect the security environment in the region, as evidenced by reports about the recent collision of Vietnamese and Chinese vessels.

We urge all parties concerned to seek peaceful and cooperative solutions in accordance with international law, in particular the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to continue ensuring safety and freedom of navigation.

We also call on the parties to undertake de‐escalating measures and refrain from any unilateral action which would be detrimental to peace and stability in the region.

The EU will keep following these developments closely.


Fulltext in PDF: 140508_04_en.pdf

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Asahi Editorial: “China must stop oil drilling in South China Sea”

09 May 2014

Tensions are escalating dangerously in the South China Sea, where China and Vietnam have conflicting territorial interests. Chinese government vessels rammed Vietnamese patrol boats near an oil rig that China’s state-owned company is installing there, and shot water cannons at Vietnamese vessels.

This is a very serious situation. China had no right to unilaterally start such an economic undertaking in disputed waters in the first place. The Chinese side must desist immediately.

China describes the Paracel Islands, located near the site of the maritime skirmish, as part of its territory and claims it has every right to drill for oil in waters around the islands.

But the entire area falls within the exclusive economic zone established by Vietnam. Although the Paracel Islands have been under China’s effective control, they are also claimed by Vietnam. China’s behavior is unacceptable.

The incident marks yet another chapter in the troubled history of territorial disputes in the South China Sea. In addition to China and Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan claim islands and economic interests in the region.

For its part, China claims most of the South China Sea, encompassed in what is called the “nine-dotted line.” But this U-shaped demarcation line is vague in nature and not clearly based on international law. Beijing seems to believe it holds exclusive rights in the waters within the line.

In January, the government of China’s Hainan province, which Beijing says has jurisdiction over the South China Sea, introduced a set of rules that require all foreign fishing boats to gain permission from provincial authorities to operate in the vast area claimed by China. The move, unsurprisingly, provoked angry protests from neighboring countries. It appears that China is trying to accumulate a number of faits accomplis concerning its territorial claim over the area within the nine-dotted line.

China and Vietnam are both communist countries, but the history of their relationship is checkered, as shown by the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War. Even so, in the 1990s, the two countries devoted considerable time to working together to resolve disputes over their land border and maritime rights in the Gulf of Tonkin. They eventually struck a deal.

At that time, the two countries failed to reach an agreement on their territorial claims over the South China Sea. But the deal was viewed as sage move and a way of avoiding conflict that would harm bilateral ties.

In 2002, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed on the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, a set of principles for peaceful resolutions to disputes in the region. Both sides are set to work out a detailed code of conduct to achieve the goal outlined in the agreement. China’s latest action tramples on these international agreements.

The U.S. government quickly expressed its concern about this latest flare-up. Washington regards China’s behavior as a potentially serious threat to the principle of freedom of navigation in the entire South China Sea.

If things don’t improve, the seas in East Asia will become theaters of conflict among regional powers. That would be in nobody’s interest. China, which is responsible for this situation, should back down first. We also urge Vietnam to keep calm in responding to the situation.

–The Asahi Shimbun, May 9

Original version: read more…

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Statement by Senator John McCain on conflict between China and Vietnam

07 May 2014

(C) Wikimedia

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today released the following statement on the latest reports regarding the escalating conflict between China and Vietnam over a Chinese oil rig near the Paracel Islands:

“China’s decision to begin drilling for oil off the coast of Vietnam, and its deployment of dozens of naval vessels to support that provocative action, is deeply concerning and serves only to escalate tensions in the South China Sea.  Chinese ships have swarmed and rammed Vietnamese Sea Guard vessels in yet another instance of aggressive maritime harassment. There should be no doubt that China bears full responsibility for this unilateral attempt to change the status quo.

“These Chinese actions rest on territorial claims that have no basis in international law. In fact, China’s drilling is occurring squarely within Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone, as defined clearly under international law. It is incumbent upon on all responsible nations to insist that China’s leaders take immediate steps to deescalate tensions and revert to the status quo ante.”

Original statement: read more…

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