Vietnam Is Becoming Asia’s Most Aggressive Maritime Nation After China  

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ASIA FOREIGN AFFAIRS, FORBES)

 

Asia #ForeignAffairs

Vietnam Is Becoming Asia’s Most Aggressive Maritime Nation After China

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Activists chant anti-China slogans during a rally in Hanoi on March 14, 2016, to mark the anniversary of a 1988 battle in the Spratly Islands, a rare act of protest over an issue that has come to dog relations between Hanoi and Beijing. (HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)

China has stoked many of Asia’s maritime sovereignty disputes by reclaiming land to build artificial islands and, in some cases, adding military infrastructure to those islands. To rub in the message that it has the more power than anyone else in the widely disputed, 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea, the Beijing government glibly sails coast guard ships around the exclusive ocean economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Off its east coast, China routinely passes boats through a tract of sea disputed with, and controlled by Japan.

But let’s linger on another country for a second – Vietnam.

A fisherman and his son try to fix the roof of their boat on Thuan Phuoc port in prior to the next fishing trip on August 30, 2016 in Danang, Vietnam. (AFP/Getty image)

The country with a 3,444 kilometer-long coastline shows every sign of being Asia’s second most expansion-minded maritime power after China.

Here’s the evidence:

  • Last year the American Center for Strategic & International Studies said Vietnam had landfilled more South China Sea islets than China itself, though China’s method was probably more destructive. It holds 21 tiny islets in the Spratly archipelago, more than any of its regional rivals.
  • This year Vietnam renewed a deal with the overseas subsidiary of state-owned Indian oil firm ONGC to explore for fossil fuels under the ocean floor. Beijing will likely bristle at this move because it too claims waters off the Vietnamese east coast as part of its position that 95% of the whole sea is Chinese, but Vietnam has not backed down. In any case, India is Vietnam’s new best friend — to wit its call in July to step up a year-old partnership.
  • Vietnamese fishing boats, a large share of the 1.72 million that trawl the South China Sea, have been sent off by other coastal states and as far off as Indonesia and Thailand, scholars who follow the maritime dispute say. Two Vietnamese fishermen turned up dead 34 kilometers from the Philippines last month in what’s believed to be an incident involving an official vessel from Manila. Fish were 10% of Vietnam’s export revenues as of a decade ago, the University of British Columbia says in this study. “Fish stocks in Vietnam have been depleted, so they have to venture further away to continue their business,” says Le Hong Hiep, a fellow at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. “As they venture further away it’s easier for them to get into other countries’ waters and they commit illegal fishing.”
  • Vietnam protests when Taiwan makes its presence felt on Taiping Island. Although Taiping is the largest feature in the South China Sea’s Spratly archipelago, Taiwan has little clout in the bigger sovereignty dispute and has even used its Taiping facilities to help Vietnamese fishermen in distress. But the Vietnamese foreign ministry formally protested at least once in 2016 and again in March this year when Taiwan had a live-fire military drill. “They said Taiwan’s activities violated its sovereignty,” said Huang Kwei-bo, vice dean of the College of International Affairs at National Chengchi University in Taipei. “Whenever Taiwan makes a move, Vietnam always protests. It’s been like that all along. Vietnam is pretty assertive.”
  • China has to watch it, too. China is using economic incentives to get along with other South China Sea states but things keep going wrong with Vietnam. In June, a senior Chinese military official cut short his visit to Vietnam as the host was looking for oil in disputed waters, and in August foreign ministers from the two countries cancelled a meeting – presumably over their maritime disputes — on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations event.

Vietnam’s maritime muscle makes a lot of sense. The country of 93 million people is on the move economically, dependent on the sea. Nationalism is growing, too, and citizens believe the government should gun hard for its claims.

China navy says aircraft carrier conducted routine drills in South China Sea

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

China navy says aircraft carrier conducted routine drills in South China Sea

WORLD Updated: Jan 03, 2017 10:09 IST

Reuters, Shanghai

Highlight Story

China’s Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Liaoning sails the water in East China Sea on December 25, 2016. (Reuters file photo)

China’s sole aircraft carrier conducted drills in the South China Sea, the navy said, days after neighbouring Taiwan said the carrier and accompanying ships had passed 90 nautical miles south of the island amid renewed tension between the two sides.The Soviet-built Liaoning aircraft carrier and accompanying warships sailed round the east coast of Taiwan in what China called a routine exercise complying with international law.The carrier’s J-15 fighters conducted flight exercises in “complex sea conditions” on Monday, the People’s Liberation Army Navy said on its official microblog later on the same day.

The carrier group also ran helicopter exercises, it said, but did not give details on the exact location.

China claims most of the South China Sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbours Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

The drills also come at a time of heightened strain with self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, following US President-elect Donald Trump’s telephone call with the island’s president that upset Beijing.

Last month, China conducted its first ever live-fire drills using an aircraft carrier close to Korea and announced on December 25 that the Liaoning and its accompanying fleet will carry out what it called routine exercises in the Western Pacific.

Taiwan’s defence ministry on December 26 said the Liaoning and five accompanying ships had entered the top half of the South China Sea after passing south of Taiwan, and later docked at a base on China’s Hainan island.

The flotilla raised alarm in Japan when it steamed between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa.

Japan said one of its maritime self defence force ships and a P3C patrol aircraft had spotted six Chinese naval vessels including the Liaoning travelling through the passage, and they also scrambled jets after a helicopter which took off from a Chinese frigate flew near Miyako Island.

China has been angered recently by US naval patrols near islands that China claims in the South China Sea. This month, a Chinese navy ship seized a US underwater drone in the South China Sea. China later returned it.

China’s air force conducted long-range drills this month above the East and South China Seas which rattled Japan and Taiwan. China said those exercises were also routine.

Taiwan Scrambles Jets, Navy As China Aircraft Carrier Enters Taiwan Strait

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

 

Taiwan scrambles jets, navy as China aircraft carrier enters Taiwan Strait

Taiwan deploys jets to watch Chinese ships (01:08)

Taiwan deploys jets to watch Chinese ships
Taiwan scrambled jets and navy ships on Wednesday as a group of Chinese warships, led by its sole aircraft carrier, sailed through the Taiwan Strait, the latest sign of heightened tension between Beijing and the self-ruled island.

China’s Soviet-built Liaoning aircraft carrier, returning from exercises in the South China Sea, was not encroaching in Taiwan’s territorial waters but entered its air defense identification zone in the southwest, Taiwan’s defense ministry said.

As a result, Taiwan scrambled jets and navy ships to “surveil and control” the passage of the Chinese ships north through the body of water separating Taiwan and China, Taiwan defense ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said.

Taiwan military aircraft and ships have been deployed to follow the carrier group, which is sailing up the west side of the median line of the strait, he said.

Taiwan’s top policymaker for China affairs urged Beijing to resume dialogue, after official communication channels were suspended by Beijing from June.

“I want to emphasize our government has sufficient capability to protect our national security. It’s not necessary to overly panic,” said Chang Hsiao-yueh, minister for Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, during a news briefing in response to reporters’ questions on the Liaoning.

“On the other hand, any threats would not benefit cross-Strait ties,” she said.

China has said the Liaoning was on an exercise to test weapons and equipment in the disputed South China Sea and its movements complied with international law.

On the weekend, a Chinese bomber flew around the Spratly Islands in a show of “strategic force”, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.

The latest Chinese exercises have unnerved Beijing’s neighbors, especially Taiwan which Beijing claims as its own, given long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said China’s ships “couldn’t always remain in port” and the navy had to hone its capabilities.

“The Taiwan Strait is an international waterway shared between the mainland and Taiwan. So, it is normal for the Liaoning to go back and forth through the Taiwan Strait in the course of training, and it won’t have any impact on cross-Strait relations,” Liu said at a briefing on Asia-Pacific security.

China claims most of the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

China distrusts Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and has stepped up pressure on her after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump broke years of diplomatic protocol and took a congratulatory call last month from her.

Trump then riled China by casting doubt on the “one China” policy that Beijing regards as the basis of U.S.-Chinese relations.

Tsai drew anger from China again when she met senior U.S. Republican lawmakers in Houston on Sunday en route to Central America, in a transit stop that Beijing had asked the United States to not allow.

Beijing suspects Tsai wants to push for the island’s formal independence, a red line for the mainland, which has never renounced the use of force to bring what it deems a renegade province under its control.

Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China.

(Reporting by J.R. Wu and Faith Hung; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel)

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China Warns Australia About The South China Sea

 

 

This post is my thoughts on an article I read this morning off of Reuters News line concerning an upcoming visit from Australia’s Foreign Minister Ms. Julie Bishop to Beijing China. The spokesman for China’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Hong Lei said he believes Australia “understands” China’s position on the South China Sea dispute with the government of the Philippines. Mr. Lei when speaking about Australia told the Australian government they “ought not avoid this reality”.

 

Are you paying any attention to the events going on concerning the territory ‘ownership’ of the South China Sea. I say this right now, the whole world ought to be paying close attention because it affects most everyone on the planet. The man-made islands that the Chinese government have ‘reclaimed’ in the South China Sea have now totaled more than 2,900 acres of land. Folks airport runways are already on the islands and missiles have been spotted on one of them already. (which China did not deny) Folks if you are not familiar with the situation, all nations on the globe have a 12 mile buffer-zone from the edge of their shores and after that you are then in international waters. These international waters are a free shipping zone, no country owns these waters. China’s government has made it plain what their goals and opinions are and that is exactly what they are going to do unless the worlds governments find a way to stop them. In case you weren’t aware of it, China claims all rights to the airways above the South China Seas as well. Over five-trillion dollars worth of trade go through those waters every year, China could stop that flow of goods or impose taxes on the whole world’s goods to be allowed to cross those waters.

 

The Philippines has filed a case against China at the Hague concerning China intruding on their sea borders. The government of China has forcefully denounced this case saying that they will not “recognize” it. There are many other nations in the region who have similar claims pending against China for the same reasons so it is not just the Philippines it is also Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and Japan. China views the case that has been brought before the Hague as a “contravention of international law”. Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop this week was quoted as saying her government felt that the Philippines had the right to take their case to the Hague. It is this issue that got Ms. Bishop graced with China’s Regal chastisement. Isn’t it odd how such a thing as honesty can just tick some folks off?

 

American President Obama has also come under verbal ire from Beijing for sending American military aircraft and Naval ships near those islands. Is this an international game of chicken? No, honestly I don’t think so. The business, military and the very-low officials that I have ever met in my lifetime have all been very secretive, even of things that seemed to have no matter. I have never noticed the government of China to be a bluffer, have you? China has a very strong structured leadership, Russia’s top-tier leaders are strong, Americas government plays politics, may God help us all.