Archive | Opinion

Tags: , , ,

China’s expansionnism protested in France: Press release | Collectif Vietnam

25 January 2016

More than 300 Vietnamese and international friends of Collectif Vietnam gathered on January 23, 2016, in front of the Wall for Peace (Paris 7th) to call the international community to strongly protest against “Chinese expansionnism” in the South China Sea (” East Sea “for Vietnam,” West Philippine Sea” for the Philippines) to protect freedom of air and maritime navigation, as well as to avoid risk of war.

The appeal says that “China, since 1974, has been violating Vietnam’s sovereignty, undermining respect for international law, and threatening the security, peace and freedom of navigation, not only to coastal countries but also to all countries with vessels circulating this route, including France and Europe”.

This gathering is the culmination of protest of 30 Vietnamese associations in France against China’s recent installation of the drilling platform HD-981 and against China’s test flights in the disputed area, respectively in the Gulf of Tonkin and Fiery Cross Reef (Chu Thap). These acts are considered “illegal” by the organizers according to the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS).

To recall, it was the fourth time since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 that the Vietnamese community and their international friends took to the streets of Paris to protest against the provocative actions of the Chinese government with the creation of the city “Tam Sa” in 2007, the violent incident between Vietnam drilling ships and those of China surveillance in 2011, the installation of China’s drilling platform in 2014 and in 2016, test flights and installation of another drilling platform. All of these incidents occurred in areas contested by several countries, especially China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

About South China Sea: The South China Sea is located in a strategic area in Southeast Asia, bringing together three main archipelagos (Paracels, Spratlys, Pratas), Macclesfield Bank and Scarborough Reef. It is part of the sea routes and the busiest straits in the world. Several territorial conflicts have been observed in these areas. The Philippines has demanded for international justice at the Court of Arbitration in The Hague regarding their maritime disputes with China, challenging the legal basis of the territorial claims of China.

About Collectif Vietnam: Collectif Vietnam is a collective gathering of Vietnamese citizens or Vietnamese origin and Vietnam’s friends of all generations, living, studying and working in France, who support Vietnam.

Press Kit: https://goo.gl/Zm6wfH

Contact: Tuong Nguyen, Associate Editor, SEAS Issues (nhtuong@gmail.com)

Annex 1: Photos (cf. https://goo.gl/nWLkm5)

© Duc Truong, UGVF

© Duc Truong, UGVF

 

 © Duc Truong, UGVF

 © Hoai Tuong Nguyen, Future Institute

 

Annex 2: Videos

Comments (0)

Tags:

Toward a freeze of five lighthouses in the South China Sea at ASEAN Regional Forum 2014 | Tuong Nguyen, SEAS Issues

09 August 2014

SEAS Issues/PARIS – According to the state-run China News Service, China’s Navigation Guarantee Center plans to build five lighthouses in the Paracels (including North Reef, Antelope Reef, Drummond Island, South Sand and Pyramid Rock). The plan has been announced as a response to the Triple Action Plan (TAP) of the Philippines and the joint stance of the Foreign ministers of Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam to freeze provocative and destabilizing acts in the South China Sea.


ASEAN Foreign Secretary in January 2014 at Bagan, Myanmar. Photo (C) AFP

The Chinese officials and experts said that “the lighthouse is a symbol of the country’s sovereignty in the islands”, and placing lighthouses will help boost the maritime navigation in the region because these reefs, islets are not on the detailed maps for civilian ships.

Yesterday, August 07, 2014, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly criticised that the move is illegal under the routine formula: “Vietnam has  indisputable sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos. Therefore, all Chinese activities in the two groups of islands are null and void”.

Today, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi rejects Philippines’s TAP and Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying defends China’s lighthouse plan: “China has long been building and maintaining lighthouses on its “inherent” islands and provides necessary measures relevant to international rules for navigational safety of vessels passing by.”

The US also call for a “freeze” on provocative acts, proposing that “when there are disagreements, the claimant states would decide among themselves what type of specific activities are considered provocative or out-of-bounds, offer to put a voluntary freeze on any such actions if other claimants would commit to do so likewise”.

This recent move in these small islets and reefs in Paracels occupied by force since 1974 by China and continuously claimed by Vietnam, shows Beijing’s ambition to assert its territorial claims in the disputed area. While the US hope that the Code of Conducts (COC) would be a particular topic of conversation at the upcoming ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) on August 10 in Naypyidaw, the Philippines focus on their TAP to “freeze” China’s lighthouse plan.

Tuong Nguyen is a contributor at SEAS Issues and a free commentator on the South China Sea affairs on Global Post and Eurasia Review. The author would like to thank Thuy Linh Le and BDTP Group for the proof reading.

The views expressed are the author’s own.

Comments (1)

In the heart of the Vietnam China standoff at sea – Eunice Yoon | CNBC

14 July 2014

 

Eunice Yoon | CNBC - It’s not often you get a chance to see one of the most dangerous flashpoints in Asia.

We went on a boat to the South China Sea to check out the latest standoff between Vietnam and China.

Hanoi believes that the waters near the Paracel Islands are part of Vietnam’s own economic zone. The Chinese, who control the Paracels, claim the waters. To make their point, in May, Chinese state oil companyCNOOC put an oil rig in the disputed waters, sparking a tense standoff.

The Vietnamese government, which is on a PR offensive against Beijing, organized the trip for a handful of other journalists. We were told it would take about one week and require that we transfer boats.

We cast off from the port city of Da Nang with the Vietnamese coast guard,traveled overnight, and by morning got a glimpse of the conflict. When we got up to the deck, we saw a Chinese warship.

As we drew nearer to the rig we switched boats. Our hosts said a bigger boat would better outrun the numerous Chinese vessels they expected we would face.

After jumping into a dingy, we sped across the open ocean to CSB-8003 – a 1,600 ton vessel – ordered by the Vietnamese authorities to patrol the area near the rig.

There, I met the crew of CSB-8003 led by Captain Hung Nguyen Van.

Every day, Captain Hung and his some 30 crewmen attempt to get their vessel close to the rig – and remind the Chinese that Vietnam still claims these waters. I was told that day the Chinese ships outmanned Vietnam’s 110 to 5 though the odds didn’t seem to deter Captain Hung.

Getty Images

“The rig is clearly inside Vietnam’s waters, Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, and Vietnam’s continental shelf,” he said.

We headed towards the rig.

The HD-981 oil drilling platform is one football field long, 40 stories high and is said to be worth $1 billion according to CNOOC.

The lookout warned us that eight Chinese ships were headed towards CSB-8003.

We were eight nautical miles – 15 kilometers – from the rig when a Chinese coast guard vessel blocked our path. Another charged towards us.

The Vietnamese coast guard vessel blasted its recorded broadcast in English, Chinese and Vietnamese, warning the Chinese to cease drilling activities and leave the disputed waters. The broadcast had the opposite effect, making the Vietnamese a target.

On the horizon, Chinese reinforcements moved in. We soon found ourselves surrounded and were forced to fall back.

Close call

The next day, we watched a ceremony where the crew salutes Vietnam in front of local reporters who will broadcast the event across the country. Vietnam is facing its worst confrontation with China since the two countries went to war in 1979. Their government wants its people to know that Vietnam is prepared to stand up to China.

Many countries with coastlines along the South China Sea fear that as China gets wealthier and more powerful, the fight will become more unequal. They worry China wants to dominate the sea, its rich fishing, shipping lanes and potential energy resources. So they are all willing players in the endless cat and mouse game at sea.

Minutes later, duty calls and our vessel headed back to the rig.

A Chinese coast guard boat came hurtling towards us. The Vietnamese counted that it was one of nine Chinese ships suddenly on our tail. It was agile and moving fast – ready to collide at any moment. It got about 100 meters behind us before drifting back the further we sped away.

The smaller fishing surveillance ships are particularly vulnerable to ramming and water cannons, I was told.

One of the crew members, Colonel Tran Van Hau, told me that in early June, the Chinese attacked a ship he was on.

“At first, there was only one Chinese ship chasing after us, then there were two more ships on both sides of our boat. One Chinese ship accelerated with very high speed and hit the right side of the back of our boat directly. Then it sped up again and kept ramming our boat leaving four holes,” he explained.

But, to the Chinese, there is no question who the aggressor is at sea.

 

The view from China

Only a short flight from Vietnam, I find people in China have a completely different view of the standoff.

On Hainan Island, Chinese fishing communities thrive. The southern island is a launch pad for seafarers and naval forces heading into the South China Sea.

Veteran maritime scholar Dr. Wu Shicun of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies took me into the archives to show me numerous maps including a collection with U-shaped lines – often referred to as a “nine-dash line” – which Beijing believes outlines China’s territory in the South China Sea.

Dr. Wu said this is why China feels it has the right to place its oil rig close to the Paracels Islands and why they’re so angry Vietnam’s vessels have rammed their ships, they claim, more than one thousand times.

“What China is doing is to react to the ramming activities conducted by the Vietnamese,” he said. “What China is doing is to protect our oil rig.”

Currently the Paracels are in Chinese hands. China gained full control after defeating what was then South Vietnam in a battle in 1974. However, Vietnam, now unified, still claims the islands. And both countries have competing evidence to support their arguments.

Wu said Beijing believes the current standoff is Hanoi’s attempt at a land grab – by seeking sympathy from an international community adjusting to a rising China.

“The fact is that China now is becoming an influential power,” he said. “So China has [its] own interest to safeguard.”

Beijing sounds in

Over in Beijing, one of the government’s top maritime authorities said China feels it’s the victim. In a rare interview, a senior China diplomat on maritime affairs, Yi Xianliang, told us, China has been taken aback by Vietnam.

Beijing blames the U.S. for stirring up trouble at sea with its pivot to Asia – by emboldening neighbors like the Philippines and Vietnam to stand up to China.

Yi says Washington isn’t playing by the rules of an honest broker.

“The U.S. would like to be coach for some countries. [On] the other side, the U.S. would like to be a referee or a judge and sometimes the U.S. [is] like a sportsman or a player. So this gives us some confusion,” Yi said.

The U.S. has called on China to remove the rig and for all countries to withdraw their drops and resolve the tensions diplomatically.

Yi insists China will keep the rig where it is but hopes to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

“Of course, we will not push our Vietnam friends in the corner because this is not China’s style,” Yi said.

(Original version is available at CNBC)

Comments (0)

Vietnam, drilling rig, tensions in East Sea

“If you claim to be scientists, why act in unscientific manner?” – Hoang Tuong | VNA

07 June 2014

(VNA) Countering inaccurate allegations and arguments by a number of Chinese scholars concerning China’s illegal placement of the drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 deep inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, researcher Hoang Truong published an article under the above title, highlighting the historical truth.

Vietnam, drilling rig, tensions in East Sea

At the beginning of May, China illegally positioned its rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Vietnam’s waters and sent a large number of armed and military ships to defend it. Photo: VNA

Following are excerpts from his article.

Recently, a number of relatively official media outlets in China, such as the Global Times and International Herald, published a series of articles by Ke Xiao Zhai and Lu Jian Ren, who are working at the Guangxi Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, on China’s illegal placement of the drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 deep inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

In the general definition, scientific research means collecting and processing information so as to find out the nature of events, phenomena and processes. But it is regrettable that these “scholars” have messed them up.

To create a “scientific” air, Mr. Ke has fabricated and analysed four mazes. The first is that Vietnam “always naturally wants to attack China”. Don’t you know that the Vietnamese have never invaded China? Have you ever seen Vietnamese troops in Guangxi, which shares mountains and rivers with Vietnam, except for once when they joined the China People’s Liberation Army in Xi Kun Ling?  As for the other side, it is clear to everybody that we, the Vietnamese, always cherish peace and friendship, having experienced bloodshed time and again. It is also clear that we are ready to put the past aside to look to the future. This is a natural characteristic of the Vietnamese towards our northern neighbour.

Mr. Ke fabricates a claim that in 2007, when the demarcation of the land border between Vietnam and China had not been completed, Vietnam worked out its “sea strategy towards 2020” aiming to expand the area of the East Sea, and that this is the cause of the escalation in the conflict between the two countries.

For millennia now, we the Vietnamese have known only too well the legend which has it that Lac Long Quan and his wife Au Co divided their brood into two; 50 of the children followed their father to the sea and the other 50, their mother to the mountains. This shows that our sense for the sea of our nation has been nurtured for millennia, not from 2007, simply because all one side of our country faces the sea and 28 out of Vietnam’s 63 provinces and cities are located along the coast. The strategy mentioned is not the first; such a strategy has existed for a very long time, and did not need to wait for the completion of the demarcation of the land border to come into being.

If Mr. Ke wishes to touch upon the occupation of Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, I would like to say that in Hoang Sa, Vietnamese have been present for several centuries now while the Chinese are nowhere to be seen there. Even China’s maps for centuries have marked Hainan Island as China’s southernmost border. Only in 1956 did China send troops to occupy the eastern part of Vietnam’s Hoang Sa and in 1974, it occupied the western part. Similarly, Vietnam has been continuously and peacefully present in Truong Sa archipelago for a long time now; only in 1988, 1989 and 1995 did Chinese troops jump in to occupy seven shoals. So the question here is who expanded the presence and occupation?

Moreover, it is China, not Vietnam, who claimed the huge “nine-dot” line that covers almost all the East Sea on the basis of no law; while Vietnam has only drawn up its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf exactly as prescribed by international law, especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982, to which China is a signatory. So who expands its area of sovereign right?

Mr. Ke also says that visiting Vietnam last year, Premier Li Keqiang raised the “nice idea” of joint exploitation but Vietnam refused on the grounds that Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf are undisputed. It’s true, Mr. Ke! On its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, Vietnam has been conducting joint exploitation with tens of foreign companies on the basis of exercising Vietnam’s sovereign right. Vietnam has more than once invited Chinese companies, including the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, to join but you have been insisting on “joint exploitation” in the sense that the “nine-dot” line invented by China belongs to China, and now it gives Vietnam a favour by joining the exploitation. Is there any garden in the house left to you by your forefathers? If yes, will you be willing to let your neighbour raise his chickens there at his will with the argument that the garden is not completely yours but an area disputed by the two families? I also heard that your ambassador in the US complained that China placed only one drilling rig while Vietnam had many. When it is not yours, one is illegal but when it is truly mine, even thousands are legal.

The second maze Mr. Ke fabricates is that Vietnam wants to use this to realise “national reconciliation”, sacrificing the Vietnam-China relationship in exchange; and as the situation spills out of control, the power of an anti-Communist and an extremist national force has taken shape. If somebody placed a huge drilling rig in the water belonging to China, as prescribed by international law, how would the Chinese, including those working and residing in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, think and act? The root cause of the situation is China’s wrongful act that violates Vietnam’s sovereignty and sovereign right, not what Mr. Ke imagines; that Vietnam wants to take advantage of this to achieve national reconciliation. In the blood of the Vietnamese, there is nothing like extremist nationalism because we have been invaded by major powers, one after another, which forced us to shed blood to safeguard our country. If we keep hatred in our hearts, with whom can we live then?

The third maze Mr. Ke wishes to drive us down is the slanderous allegation that Vietnam hopes to take advantage of schemes by some countries who want to use Vietnam to “contain” China, availing itself of the chance of the drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 to “cry out, exaggerate and jump”.

Still a developing country after having experienced years of war, Vietnam has only one desire, for peace and stability for national construction. “Containing” major powers is simply not our goal. In history, Vietnam has repeatedly been taken advantage of and suffered from bargaining behind its back and, subsequently, contained. Mr. Ke has taken a wrong turn, and I urge him to please study again the history of 1954, 1972, 1979, 1989 and so on. Having learnt those unpleasant lessons, we have always persisted with the foreign policy of independence and self reliance. We do not join anyone against any other.

Mr. Ke also says we “cry out” by denouncing China at every international forum for support from the international public. Is it true that we should be banned from crying when we are hurt?

Mr. Ke also accuses us of having “exaggerated” right at the beginning of the incident and blamed China for “undermining peace and stability”. Well, I say this to Mr. Ke. It is best for China not to cause any incident, and then Vietnam will have no grounds to exaggerate anything. It is a great pity that the Haiyang Shiyou-981 case is so big and brazen that the principle of considering a major case to be a minor one and a minor one to be nothing can no longer be applied. As for the question of who is undermining peace and stability; the international public is wise enough to make a judgement without needing us to “exaggerate”.

The fourth theory that Mr. Ke suggests is that we are using the lessons of national strength and a united people, which he himself recognises as “valuable experience helping Vietnam to win the two wars of resistance against the French and the Americans,” and applying it to educate and encourage the whole population to determinedly safeguard our interest in the sea and islands. In this, Mr. Ke is quite right, but I want to add some points. First, this is not a lesson drawn from only the two wars, but also from thousands of years of national building and defence. Second, our nation is “blessed” to always fight foreign aggressors who are, materially speaking, many times more powerful than us. If we do not use our people’s strength, unity and wisdom, how can we fight them? And third, our state is of the people, for the people and by the people, so who else should we rely on if not our people?

As for other articles, I shall comment on them in due course.

 

Comments (0)

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...)

Comments (0)

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

Comments (0)

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…

Comments (1)

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…

Comments (0)

File:Paracel Islands-CIA WFB Map-2.JPG

Tags: , , , ,

Vietnamese scholars planning to send a letter to the UN on 40th year of Paracels battle* – by Tinh Le | SEASF, BDTP

11 January 2014

by Tinh Le - SEASFBDTP - The 19th of January this year marks the fortieth anniversary of the Chinese military intervention on the Paracel archipelago. Since 40 years, China occupied the whole archipelago.

However, following international law, Paracel archipelago is always under the sovereignty of Viet Nam. The Charter of the United Nations prohibits the acquisition of territory by force.

Viet Nam must always remind the world of this obvious breach of international law of China, always affirms its sovereignty on the archipelago, and urges Chinato accept the submission of the Paracel archipelago dispute to the arbitration of the International Court of Justice, the most appropriate organization to resolve territorial disputes between States.

 

File:Paracel Islands-CIA WFB Map-2.JPG

Position of the Battle of the Paracel Islands (C) CIA

That is the content of the letter we send to the United Nations, with the strong belief that a world of peace and justice exists only when each country respects international law.

The letter is written by two civil society activists striving for the justice for Viet Namand other small countries in the disputes on the South China Sea: Southeast-Asia Sea Research Foundation and the BDTP Group.

The letter is reviewed by world’s leading experts on international law, by senior civil activists, with all the seriousness and the highest caution.

Because we would like to bring the voices of Vietnamese and people loving justice around the world to the highest and most competent legal authorities of the world:

  • United Nations General Secretary
  • United Nations Rule of Law Unit
  • United Nations First Committee (Disarmament and International Security)
  • International Court of Justice

Let’s remind the world the flagrant violation of international law whenChinainvaded the Paracel archipelago in 1974. Let’s urgeChinato submit the dispute to the International Court of Justice.

Please join us in signing this letter: http://goo.gl/qagq5R

One voice may be small, but a million will change the world.

 


(*) Tinh Le is member of Southeast-Asia Sea Research Foundation and BDTP Group.  The orginal title submitted by Tinh Le: Press Release: “Letter sent to the United Nations on the 40th anniversary of Chinese military intervention on the Paracel archipelag”

 

Comments (0)

Joint Development

Joint Development in the South China Sea – by Huy Duong | cogitASIA

12 July 2013

Huy Duong | cogitASIA - With the South China Sea disputes remaining intractable, the need to manage them is paramount. Worldwide, joint development of disputed areas has proved to be a hallmark for managing disputes, yet this continues to elude the claimants to the Paracels, Spratlys, Scarborough Reef, and the central part of the South China Sea.

Successful dispute resolutions and joint developments

Dispute resolutions and joint development are not new to the South China Sea countries. These countries have successfully demarcated a number of maritime boundaries, including Indonesia-Malaysia, Malaysia-Thailand, Thailand-Vietnam, China-Vietnam, Indonesia-Vietnam, and Brunei-Malaysia. In the Gulf of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed to an area of “joint historic waters” since 1982. Around the entrance to this gulf, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam have agreements on three areas of bilateral and trilateral joint development, the first of which dates to 1979.

Joint Development

Boundaries and joint development areas in southern South China Sea. Source: Huy Duong, all rights reserved.

These successes depend on the conflicting claims being clear and reasonable—which results in small well-defined overlaps—on negotiations in good faith, and on the absence of sovereignty disputes over islands.

Lessons for the current conflicts

Why have these successes not been repeated for the disputes in the central part of the South China Sea?

First, these disputes involve unresolved sovereignty disputes over islands, which add complexity to the maritime disputes and often carry political and emotional undercurrents. However, this should not matter for the provisional arrangements of joint development because their raison d’être is the existence of unresolved disputes; arrangements for joint development normally define the limits of the disputed areas and a means to share the resources in a way that is independent of the relative strengths of the claims.

Most importantly, there is no agreement on where the limits of the disputed areas are. Joint development of the disputed areas is not possible if there is no agreement on their limits.

China’s actions at various points along the U-shaped line suggest that it is setting the stage for claiming certain rights within the area approximately indicated by that line. This area extends beyond the equidistance line between the disputed islands and other territories, therefore China’s position is inconsistent with international law because according to jurisprudence on maritime delimitation, the waters belonging to these islands would fall far short of this line. China’s position creates a large, asymmetric, ill-defined area of overlapping claims that would make joint development in this area disadvantageous to the other claimants.

Vietnam and the Philippines see the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) extending from their undisputed territories as sacrosanct and unaffected by the potential EEZ entitlement of the disputed islands, but neither has stated whether it claims EEZs for these islands elsewhere. Malaysia has been silent on the question of potential EEZ entitlement of the disputed islands. Brunei only claims Louisa Reef, and is unlikely to demand EEZs for other features.

Comparing this situation with successful dispute resolutions and joint developments elsewhere suggests that these successes have not been repeated here because the following factors are missing: clear and reasonable claims by all parties, an agreement on where the disputed areas are, and good faith.

A possible definition of the joint development areas

Despite the unknowns, it is clear that China seeks to maximize the disputed areas, while the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei are likely to seek to minimize them. Vietnam seeks to reduce the disputed areas, but its need to reduce them to the 12 nautical mile territorial sea around the disputed islands is probably less acute than that of the Philippines and Malaysia. This is because most of the disputed islands do not lie deep in the 200 nautical mile EEZ emanating from Vietnam’s undisputed territories. Nevertheless, it would be beneficial for Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei to take a common position, so their views are likely to converge.

The greatest difference will be that between China’s wish to maximize the disputed areas and the other countries’ wish to reduce and minimize them.

SCS_QuarterEEZ_620

Could the “quarter distance” lines, in black, be the maximum limits for the disputed waters? Source: Huy Duong. All rights reserved.

A compromise might be for the claimants to define the areas of joint development along the lines used by the International Court of Justice in its solution to the Nicaragua-Colombia dispute, which gives Colombia’s small offshore islands no EEZ, and larger ones an EEZ that extends a quarter of the distance to Nicaragua’s coastal islands. If a similar arrangement is applied to the South China Sea, then the maximum limits of the areas of joint development will be the black lines in Map 2, which seems to be a reasonable compromise for all parties.

The question is whether every claimant has enough good faith to define the areas of joint development in any reasonable manner.

Mr. Huy Duong contributes articles on the South China Sea to several news outlets including the BBC and Vietnam’s online publication VietNamNet. See more by this author.

 

Comments (0)