Spratly Islands: The Islands Nation That Isn’t A Nation, So Says China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Spratly Islands

Introduction The Spratly Islands consist of more than 100 small islands or reefs. They are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and potentially by gas and oil deposits. They are claimed in their entirety by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, while portions are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines. About 45 islands are occupied by relatively small numbers of military forces from China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Brunei has established a fishing zone that overlaps a southern reef but has not made any formal claim.
History The first possible recorded human interaction with the Spratly Islands dates back as far as 3 B.C. This is based on the discovery that the people of Nanyue (southern China and northern Vietnam) and Old Champa kingdom fishermen (modern-day central Vietnam) had been visiting the Spratly Islands and other South China Sea Islands for fishing.

Ancient Chinese maps record the Qianli Changsha (千里長沙) and Wanli Shitang (萬里石塘), which China today claims refer to these islands. These islands were labeled as Chinese territory since the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century, followed by the Ming Dynasty. When the Ming Dynasty collapsed, the Qing Dynasty continued to include the territory in maps complied in 1724, 1755, 1767, 1810, 1817 by the Qing Dynasty of China.

Ancient Vietnamese maps record Bãi Cát Vàng (Golden Sandbanks, as claimed today by Vietnam referring to both Paracel and Spratly Islands) which lies near the Coast of the central Vietnam as early as the 17th century. In Phủ Biên Tạp Lục (Frontier Chronicles) by the scholar Le Quy Don, Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa were defined as belonging to Quảng Ngãi District. He described it as where sea products and shipwrecked cargoes were available to be collected. Vietnamese text written in the 17th century referenced government-sponsored economic activities during the Le Dynasty, 200 years earlier. The Vietnamese government conducted several geographical surveys of the islands in the 18th century.

The islands were sporadically visited throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by mariners from different European powers (including either Richard Spratly or William Spratly, after whom the island group derives its most recognizable English name). However, these nations showed little interest in the islands. In 1883, German boats surveyed the Spratly and Paracel Islands but withdrew the survey eventually after receiving protests from the Nguyen Dynasty.

In 1933, France claimed the Spratly and Paracel Islands on behalf of its then-colony Vietnam. It occupied a number of the Spratly Islands, including Itu Aba, built weather stations on two, and administered them as part of French Indochina. This occupation was protested by the Republic of China government because France admitted finding Chinese fishermen there when French war ships visited the nine islands. In 1935, the Chinese government also announced a sovereignty claim on the Spratly Islands. Japan occupied some of the islands in 1939 during World War II, and used the islands as a submarine base for the occupation of Southeast Asia. During the occupation, these islands were called Shinnan Shoto (新南諸島), literally the New Southern Islands, and put under the governance of Taiwan together with the Paracel Islands (西沙群岛). Today, Itu Aba Island is still administrated by the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Following the defeat of Japan at the end of World War II, the Republic of China government (Nationalist) re-claimed the entirety of the Spratly Islands (including Itu Aba), accepting the Japanese surrender on the islands based on the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations. Several years later, the Nationalist Chinese government withdrew from most of the Spratly and Paracel Islands after they were defeated by the forces of the opposing Communist Party of China in 1949.

Japan renounced all claims to the islands in 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, together with the Paracels, Pratas & other islands captured from China, upon which China reasserted its claim to the islands.

The naval units of the Vietnamese government took over in Trường Sa after the defeat of the French at the end of the First Indochina War. In 1958, the People’s Republic of China issued a declaration defining its territorial waters, which encompassed the Spratly Islands. North Vietnam’s prime minister, Pham Van Dong, sent a formal note to Zhou Enlai, stating that “The Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam respects this decision.”. However, the Spratly Islands were under the jurisdiction of South Vietnam, not North Vietnam.

Geography Location: Southeastern Asia, group of reefs and islands in the South China Sea, about two-thirds of the way from southern Vietnam to the southern Philippines
Geographic coordinates: 8 38 N, 111 55 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: less than 5 sq km
land: less than 5 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes 100 or so islets, coral reefs, and sea mounts scattered over an area of nearly 410,000 sq km of the central South China Sea
Area – comparative: NA
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 926 km
Maritime claims: NA
Climate: tropical
Terrain: flat
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Southwest Cay 4 m
Natural resources: fish, guano, undetermined oil and natural gas potential
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land: 0 sq km
Natural hazards: typhoons; numerous reefs and shoals pose a serious maritime hazard
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: strategically located near several primary shipping lanes in the central South China Sea; includes numerous small islands, atolls, shoals, and coral reefs
Politics There are multiple reasons why the neighboring nations would be interested in the Spratly Islands. In 1968 oil was discovered in the region. The Geology and Mineral Resources Ministry of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has estimated that the Spratly area holds oil and natural gas reserves of 17.7 billion tons (1.60 × 1010 kg), as compared to the 13 billion tons (1.17 × 1010 kg) held by Kuwait, placing it as the fourth largest reserve bed in the world. Naturally, these large reserves assisted in intensifying the situation and propelled the territorial claims of the neighboring countries. On 11 March 1976, the first major Philippine oil discovery occurred off the coast of Palawan, within the Spratly Islands territory, and these oil fields now account for fifteen percent of all petroleum consumed in the Philippines. In 1992, the PRC and Vietnam granted oil exploration contracts to U.S. oil companies that covered overlapping areas in the Spratlys. In May 1992, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Crestone Energy (a U.S. company based in Denver, Colorado) signed a cooperation contract for the joint exploration of the Wan’an Bei-21 block, a 25,155 km² section of the southwestern South China Sea that includes Spratly Island areas. Part of the Crestone’s contract covered Vietnam’s blocks 133 and 134, where PetroVietnam and ConocoPhillips Vietnam Exploration & Production, a unit of ConocoPhillips, agreed to evaluate prospects in April 1992. This led to a confrontation between China and Vietnam, with each demanding that the other cancel its contract.

An additional motive is the region’s role as one of the world’s most productive areas for commercial fishing. In 1988, for example, the South China Sea accounted for eight percent of the total world catch, a figure which has certainly risen. The PRC has predicted that the South China Sea holds combined fishing and oil and gas resources worth one trillion dollars. There have already been numerous clashes between the Philippines and other nations — particularly the PRC — over foreign fishing vessels in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the media regularly report the arrest of Chinese fishermen. In 1984, Brunei established an exclusive fishing zone encompassing Louisa Reef in the southern Spratly Islands, but has not publicly claimed the island.

The region is also one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. During the 1980s, at least two hundred and seventy ships passed through the Spratly Islands region each day, and currently more than half of the world’s supertanker traffic, by tonnage, passes through the region’s waters every year. Tanker traffic through the South China Sea is over three times greater than through the Suez Canal and five times more than through the Panama Canal; twenty five percent of the world’s crude oil passes through the South China Sea.

There have been occasional naval clashes over the Spratly Islands. In 1988, China and Vietnam clashed at sea over possession of Johnson Reef in the Spratlys. Chinese gunboats sank Vietnamese transport ships supporting a landing party of Vietnamese soldiers.

In response to growing concerns by coastal states regarding encroachments by foreign vessels on their natural resources, the United Nations convened the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982 to determine the issue of international sea boundaries. In response to these concerns, it was resolved that a coastal state could claim two hundred nautical miles of jurisdiction beyond its land boundaries. However UNCLOS failed to address the issue of how to adjudicate on overlapping claims and so the future of the islands remains clouded.

Following a 1995 dispute between China and the Philippines an ASEAN-brokered agreement was reached between the PRC and ASEAN member nations whereby a nation would inform the others of any military movement within the disputed territory and that there would be no further construction. The agreement was promptly violated by China and Malaysia. Claiming storm damage, seven Chinese naval vessels entered the area to repair “fishing shelters” in Panganiban Reef. Malaysia erected a structure on Investigator Shoal and landed at Rizal Reef. In response the Philippines lodged formal protests, demanded the removal of the structures, increased naval patrols in Kalayaan and issued invitations to American politicians to inspect the PRC bases by plane.

In the early 21st century, the situation is improving. China recently held talks with ASEAN countries aimed at realizing a proposal for a free trade area between the ten countries involved. China and ASEAN also have been engaged in talks to create a code of conduct aimed at easing tensions in the disputed islands. On 5 March 2002, an agreement was reached, setting forth the desire of the claimant nations to resolve the problem of sovereignty “without further use of force”. In November 2002, a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea was signed, easing tensions but falling short of a legally-binding code of conduct.

People Population: no indigenous inhabitants
note: there are scattered garrisons occupied by personnel of several claimant states
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Spratly Islands
Economy Economy – overview: Economic activity is limited to commercial fishing. The proximity to nearby oil- and gas-producing sedimentary basins suggests the potential for oil and gas deposits, but the region is largely unexplored. There are no reliable estimates of potential reserves. Commercial exploitation has yet to be developed.
Transportation Airports: 3 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2007)
Heliports: 3 (2007)
Ports and terminals: none; offshore anchorage only
Military Military – note: Spratly Islands consist of more than 100 small islands or reefs of which about 45 are claimed and occupied by China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: all of the Spratly Islands are claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam; parts of them are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines; in 1984, Brunei established an exclusive fishing zone that encompasses Louisa Reef in the southern Spratly Islands but has not publicly claimed the reef; claimants in November 2002 signed the “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” which has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding “code of conduct”; in March 2005, the national oil companies of China, the Philippines, and Vietnam signed a joint accord to conduct marine seismic activities in the Spratly Islands

Vietnam

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘CIA FACT BOOK’)

 

Vietnam

Introduction The conquest of Vietnam by France began in 1858 and was completed by 1884. It became part of French Indochina in 1887. Vietnam declared independence after World War II, but France continued to rule until its 1954 defeat by Communist forces under Ho Chi MINH. Under the Geneva Accords of 1954, Vietnam was divided into the Communist North and anti-Communist South. US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later, North Vietnamese forces overran the South reuniting the country under Communist rule. Despite the return of peace, for over a decade the country experienced little economic growth because of conservative leadership policies, the persecution and mass exodus of individuals – many of them successful South Vietnamese merchants – and growing international isolation. However, since the enactment of Vietnam’s “doi moi” (renovation) policy in 1986, Vietnamese authorities have committed to increased economic liberalization and enacted structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries. The country continues to experience small-scale protests from various groups, the vast majority connected to land-use issues and the lack of equitable mechanisms for resolving disputes. Various ethnic minorities, such as the Montagnards of the Central Highlands and the Khmer Krom in the southern delta region, have also held protests.
History Pre-Dynastic era

The area now known as Vietnam has been inhabited since Paleolithic times, and some archaeological sites in Thanh Hoa Province purportedly date back several thousand years. Archaeologists link the beginnings of Vietnamese civilization to the late Neolithic, Early Bronze Age, Phung-nguyen culture, which was centered in Vinh Phuc Province of contemporary Vietnam from about 2000 to 1400 BCE. By about 1200 BCE, the development of wet-rice cultivation and bronze casting in the Ma River and Red River plains led to the development of the Dong Son culture, notable for its elaborate bronze drums. The bronze weapons, tools, and drums of Dongsonian sites show a Southeast Asian influence that indicates an indigenous origin for the bronze-casting technology. Many small, ancient copper mine sites have been found in northern Vietnam. Some of the similarities between the Dong Sonian sites and other Southeast Asian sites include the presence of boat-shaped coffins and burial jars, stilt dwellings, and evidence of the customs of betel-nut-chewing and teeth-blackening.

Dynastic era

The legendary Hồng Bàng Dynasty of the Hùng kings is considered by many Vietnamese as the first Vietnamese state, known as Văn Lang. In 257 BCE, the last Hùng king lost to Thục Phán, who consolidated the Lạc Việt tribes with his Âu Việt tribes, forming Âu Lạc and proclaiming himself An Dương Vương. In 207 BCE, a Chinese general named Zhao Tuo defeated An Dương Vương and consolidated Âu Lạc into Nanyue. In 111 BCE, the Chinese Han Dynasty consolidated Nanyue into their empire.

For the next thousand years, Vietnam was mostly under Chinese rule. Early independence movements such as those of the Trưng Sisters and of Lady Triệu were only briefly successful. It was independent as Vạn Xuân under the Anterior Ly Dynasty between 544 and 602. By the early 10th century, Vietnam had gained autonomy, but not independence, under the Khúc family.

Map of Vietnam showing the conquest of the south (the Nam Tien, 1069-1757).

In 938 CE, a Vietnamese lord named Ngô Quyền defeated Chinese forces at the Bạch Đằng River and regained independence after 10 centuries under Chinese control. Renamed as Đại Việt, the nation went through a golden era during the Lý and Trần Dynasties. During the rule of the Trần Dynasty, Đại Việt repelled three Mongol invasions. Buddhism flourished and became the state religion. Following the brief Hồ Dynasty, Vietnamese independence was momentarily interrupted by the Chinese Ming Dynasty, but was restored by Lê Lợi, the founder of the Lê Dynasty. Vietnam reached its zenith in the Lê Dynasty of the 15th century, especially during the reign of Emperor Lê Thánh Tông (1460–1497). Between the 11th and 18th centuries, the Vietnamese expanded southward in a process known as nam tiến (southward expansion). They eventually conquered the kingdom of Champa and part of the Khmer Empire.

Towards the end of the Lê Dynasty, civil strife engulfed much of Vietnam. First, the Chinese-supported Mạc Dynasty challenged the Lê Dynasty’s power. After the Mạc Dynasty was defeated, the Lê Dynasty was reinstalled, but with no actual power. Power was divided between the Trịnh Lords in the North and the Nguyễn Lords in the South, who engaged in a civil war for more than four decades. During this time, the Nguyễn expanded southern Vietnam into the Mekong Delta, annexing the Champa in the central highlands and the Khmer land in the Mekong. The civil war ended when the Tây Sơn brothers defeated both and established their new dynasty. However, their rule did not last long and they were defeated by the remnants of the Nguyễn Lords led by Nguyen Anh with the help of the French. Nguyen Anh unified Vietnam, and established the Nguyễn Dynasty, ruling under the name Gia Long.

Western colonial era

Vietnam’s independence was gradually eroded by France in a series of military conquests from 1859 until 1885 when the entire country became part of French Indochina. The French administration imposed significant political and cultural changes on Vietnamese society. A Western-style system of modern education was developed, and Christianity was propagated widely in Vietnamese society. Developing a plantation economy to promote the exports of tobacco, indigo, tea and coffee, the French largely ignored increasing calls for self-government and civil rights. A nationalist political movement soon emerged, with leaders such as Phan Boi Chau, Phan Chu Trinh, Phan Dinh Phung, Emperor Ham Nghi and Ho Chi Minh calling for independence. However, the French maintained control of their colonies until World War II, when the Japanese war in the Pacific triggered the invasion of French Indochina in 1941. This event was preceded by the establishment of the Vichy French administration, a puppet state of Nazi Germany then ally of the Japanese Empire. The natural resources of Vietnam were exploited for the purposes of the Japanese Empire’s military campaigns into the British Indochinese colonies of Burma, the Malay Peninsula and India.

First Indochina War

In 1941, the Viet Minh — a communist and nationalist liberation movement — emerged under Ho Chi Minh, to seek independence for Vietnam from France as well as to oppose the Japanese occupation. Following the military defeat of Japan and the fall of its Empire of Vietnam in August 1945, Viet Minh occupied Hanoi and proclaimed a provisional government, which asserted independence on September 2. In the same year the Provisional French Republic sent the French Far East Expeditionary Corps, which was originally created to fight the Japanese occupation forces, in order to pacify the liberation movement and to restore French rule. On November 20, 1946, triggered by the Haiphong Incident, the First Indochina War between Viet Minh and the French forces ensued, lasting until July 20, 1954.

Despite fewer losses — Expeditionary Corps suffered 1/3 the casualties of the Chinese and Soviet-backed Viet Minh — during the course of the war, the U.S.-backed French and Vietnamese loyalists eventually suffered a major strategic setback at the Siege of Dien Bien Phu, which allowed Ho Chi Minh to negotiate a ceasefire with a favorable position at the ongoing Geneva conference of 1954. Colonial administration ended as French Indochina was dissolved. According to the Geneva Accords of 1954 the forces of former French supporters and communist nationalists were separated south and north, respectively, with the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone, at the 17th parallel, between. A Partition of Vietnam, with Ho Chi Minh’s Democratic Republic of Vietnam in North Vietnam, and Emperor Bao Dai’s State of Vietnam in the South Vietnam, was not intended by the 1954 Agreements, and they expressly forbade the interference of third powers. Counter to the counsel of his American advisor, the State of Vietnam Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem toppled Bao Dai in a fraudulent referendum organised by his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu, and proclaimed himself president of the Republic of Vietnam. The Accords mandated nationwide elections by 1956, which Diem refused to hold, despite repeated calls from the North for talks to discuss elections.

Vietnam War

Democratic nationwide elections mandated by the Geneva Conference of 1954 having been thwarted by Ngo Dinh Diem, the communist nationalist National Liberation Front began a guerrilla campaign in the late 1950s, assisted by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, to overthrow Diem’s government, which the NLF’s official statement described as a “disguised colonial regime”

In 1963, Buddhist discontent with Diem’s pro-Catholic discrimination erupted following the banning of the Buddhist flag and the Hue Vesak shootings. This resulted in a series of mass demonstrations known as the Buddhist crisis. With Diem unwilling to bend, his brother orchestrated the Xa Loi Pagoda raids. As a result, the US’ relationship with Diem broke down and resulted in coup that saw Diem killed.

Diem was followed by a series of military regimes that often lasted only months before being toppled by another. With this instability, the communists began to gain ground.

To support South Vietnam’s struggle against the communist insurgency, the US began increasing its contribution of military advisers. US forces became embroiled in combat operations in 1965 and at their peak they numbered more than 500,000. North Vietnamese forces attacked most major targets in southern Vietnam during the 1968 Tet Offensive. Communist forces supplying the NLF carried supplies along the Truong Son Road, which passed through Laos and Cambodia. The US president authorized Operation Menu, a SAC bombing campaign in Laos and Cambodia, which he kept secret from the US Congress.

Its own casualties mounting, and facing opposition to the war at home and condemnation abroad, the U.S. began transferring combat roles to the South Vietnamese military according to the Nixon Doctrine; the process was subsequently called Vietnamization. The effort had mixed results. The Paris Peace Accords of January 27, 1973, formally recognized the sovereignty of Vietnam “as recognized by the 1954 Geneva Agreements”. Under the terms of the accords all American combat troops were withdrawn by March 29, 1973. Limited fighting continued, but all major fighting ended until the North once again sent troops to the South during the Spring of 1975, culminating in the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975. South Vietnam briefly became the Republic of South Vietnam, under military occupation by North Vietnam, before being officially integrated with the North under communist rule as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on July 2, 1976.

Postwar

Upon taking control of the bomb-ravaged country, the Vietnamese communists banned all other political parties, forced public servants and military personnel of the Republic of Vietnam into reeducation camps. The government also embarked on a mass campaign of collectivization of farms and factories. Reconstruction of the war-ravaged country was slow, and serious humanitarian and economic problems confronted the communist regime. Millions of people fled the country in crudely-built boats, creating an international humanitarian crisis. In 1978, the Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia (sparking the Cambodian-Vietnamese War) which removed the Khmer Rouge from power. This action worsened relations with China, which launched a brief incursion into northern Vietnam (the Sino-Vietnamese War) in 1979. This conflict caused Vietnam to rely even more heavily on Soviet economic and military aid.

Đổi Mới

In a historic shift in 1986, the Communist Party of Vietnam implemented free-market reforms known as Đổi Mới (renovation). With the authority of the state remaining unchallenged, private ownership of farms and companies, deregulation and foreign investment were encouraged. The economy of Vietnam has achieved rapid growth in agricultural and industrial production, construction and housing, exports and foreign investment.

Geography Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, alongside China, Laos, and Cambodia
Geographic coordinates: 16 10 N, 107 50 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 329,560 sq km
land: 325,360 sq km
water: 4,200 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than New Mexico
Land boundaries: total: 4,639 km
border countries: Cambodia 1,228 km, China 1,281 km, Laos 2,130 km
Coastline: 3,444 km (excludes islands)
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical in south; monsoonal in north with hot, rainy season (May to September) and warm, dry season (October to March)
Terrain: low, flat delta in south and north; central highlands; hilly, mountainous in far north and northwest
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Fan Si Pan 3,144 m
Natural resources: phosphates, coal, manganese, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, forests, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 20.14%
permanent crops: 6.93%
other: 72.93% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30,000 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 891.2 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 71.39 cu km/yr (8%/24%/68%)
per capita: 847 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: occasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding, especially in the Mekong River delta
Environment – current issues: logging and slash-and-burn agricultural practices contribute to deforestation and soil degradation; water pollution and overfishing threaten marine life populations; groundwater contamination limits potable water supply; growing urban industrialization and population migration are rapidly degrading environment in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: extending 1,650 km north to south, the country is only 50 km across at its narrowest point
Politics The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a single-party state. A new state constitution was approved in April 1992, replacing the 1975 version. The central role of the Communist Party was reasserted in all organs of government, politics and society. Only political organizations affiliated with or endorsed by the Communist Party are permitted to contest elections. These include the Vietnamese Fatherland Front, worker and trade unionist parties. Although the state remains officially committed to socialism as its defining creed, the ideology’s importance has substantially diminished since the 1990s. The President of Vietnam is the titular head of state and the nominal commander in chief of the military of Vietnam, chairing the Council on National Defense and Security. The Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Tan Dung is the head of government, presiding over a council of ministers composed of 3 deputy prime ministers and the heads of 26 ministries and commissions.

The National Assembly of Vietnam is the unicameral legislature of the government, composed of 498 members. It is superior to both the executive and judicial branches. All members of the council of ministers are derived from the National Assembly. The Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam, which is the highest court of appeal in the nation, is also answerable to the National Assembly. Beneath the Supreme People’s Court stand the provincial municipal courts and the local courts. Military courts are also a powerful branch of the judiciary with special jurisdiction in matters of national security. All organs of Vietnam’s government are controlled by the Communist Party. Most government appointees are members of the party. The General Secretary of the Communist Party is perhaps one of the most important political leaders in the nation, controlling the party’s national organization and state appointments, as well as setting policy.

The Vietnam People’s Army(VPA) is the official name for the combined military services of Vietnam, which is organized along the lines of China’s People’s Liberation Army. The VPA is further subdivided into the Vietnamese People’s Ground Forces (including Strategic Rear Forces and Border Defense Forces), the Vietnam People’s Navy, the Vietnam People’s Air Force and the coast guard. Through Vietnam’s recent history, the VPA has actively been involved in Vietnam’s workforce to develop the economy of Vietnam, in order to coordinate national defense and the economy. The VPA is involved in such areas as industry, agriculture, forestry, fishery and telecommunications. The total strength of the VPA is close to 500,000 officers and enlisted members. The government also organizes and maintains provincial militias and police forces. The role of the military in public life has steadily been reduced since the 1980s.

People Population: 86,967,524 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 24.9% (male 11,230,402/female 10,423,901)
15-64 years: 69.4% (male 29,971,088/female 30,356,393)
65 years and over: 5.7% (male 1,920,043/female 3,065,697) (2009 est.)
Median age: total: 27.4 years
male: 26.4 years
female: 28.5 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.977% (2009 est.)
Birth rate: 16.47 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.18 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization: urban population: 28% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 3.1% annual rate of change (2005-2010)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.63 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 22.88 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 23.27 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 22.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.58 years
male: 68.78 years
female: 74.57 years (2009 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.83 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.5% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 290,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 24,000 (2007 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, and plague
water contact disease: leptospirosis
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)
Nationality: noun: Vietnamese (singular and plural)
adjective: Vietnamese
Ethnic groups: Kinh (Viet) 86.2%, Tay 1.9%, Thai 1.7%, Muong 1.5%, Khome 1.4%, Hoa 1.1%, Nun 1.1%, Hmong 1%, others 4.1% (1999 census)
Religions: Buddhist 9.3%, Catholic 6.7%, Hoa Hao 1.5%, Cao Dai 1.1%, Protestant 0.5%, Muslim 0.1%, none 80.8% (1999 census)
Languages: Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer; mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.3%
male: 93.9%
female: 86.9% (2002 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2000)
Education expenditures: 1.8% of GDP (1991)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Socialist Republic of Vietnam
conventional short form: Vietnam
local long form: Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam
local short form: Viet Nam
abbreviation: SRV
Government type: Communist state
Capital: name: Hanoi
geographic coordinates: 21 02 N, 105 51 E
time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 59 provinces (tinh, singular and plural) and 5 municipalities (thanh pho, singular and plural)
provinces: An Giang, Bac Giang, Bac Kan, Bac Lieu, Bac Ninh, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Ben Tre, Binh Dinh, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Binh Thuan, Ca Mau, Cao Bang, Dac Lak, Dac Nong, Dien Bien, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Gia Lai, Ha Giang, Ha Nam, Ha Tay, Ha Tinh, Hai Duong, Hau Giang, Hoa Binh, Hung Yen, Khanh Hoa, Kien Giang, Kon Tum, Lai Chau, Lam Dong, Lang Son, Lao Cai, Long An, Nam Dinh, Nghe An, Ninh Binh, Ninh Thuan, Phu Tho, Phu Yen, Quang Binh, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Quang Ninh, Quang Tri, Soc Trang, Son La, Tay Ninh, Thai Binh, Thai Nguyen, Thanh Hoa, Thua Thien-Hue, Tien Giang, Tra Vinh, Tuyen Quang, Vinh Long, Vinh Phuc, Yen Bai
municipalities: Can Tho, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh
Independence: 2 September 1945 (from France)
National holiday: Independence Day, 2 September (1945)
Constitution: 15 April 1992
Legal system: based on communist legal theory and French civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Nguyen Minh TRIET (since 27 June 2006); Vice President Nguyen Thi DOAN (since 25 July 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Nguyen Tan DUNG (since 27 June 2006); Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh HUNG (since 28 June 2006), Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung HAI (since 2 August 2007), Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien NHAN (since 2 August 2007), Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia KHIEM (since 28 June 2006), and Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh TRONG (since 28 June 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by president based on proposal of prime minister and confirmed by National Assembly
elections: president elected by the National Assembly from among its members for five-year term; last held 27 June 2006 (next to be held in 2011); prime minister appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly; deputy prime ministers appointed by the prime minister; appointment of prime minister and deputy prime ministers confirmed by National Assembly
election results: Nguyen Minh TRIET elected president; percent of National Assembly vote – 94%; Nguyen Tan DUNG elected prime minister; percent of National Assembly vote – 92%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Quoc Hoi (500 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 20 May 2007 (next to be held in May 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – CPV 450, non-party CPV-approved 42, self-nominated 1; note – 493 candidates were elected; CPV and non-party CPV-approved delegates were members of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front
Judicial branch: Supreme People’s Court (chief justice is elected for a five-year term by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the president)
Political parties and leaders: Communist Party of Vietnam or CPV [Nong Duc MANH]; other parties proscribed
Political pressure groups and leaders: 8406 Bloc; Democratic Party of Vietnam or DPV; People’s Democratic Party Vietnam or PDP-VN; Alliance for Democracy
note: these groups advocate democracy but are not recognized by the government
International organization participation: ADB, APEC, APT, ARF, ASEAN, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Le Cong PHUNG
chancery: 1233 20th Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 861-0737
FAX: [1] (202) 861-0917
consulate(s) general: San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Michael W. MICHALAK
embassy: 7 Lang Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
mailing address: PSC 461, Box 400, FPO AP 96521-0002
telephone: [84] (4) 3850-5000
FAX: [84] (4) 3850-5010
consulate(s) general: Ho Chi Minh City
Flag description: red field with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center
Culture The official spoken and written language of Vietnam is Vietnamese.

The culture of Vietnam has been influenced by neighboring China. Due to Vietnam’s long association with the south of China, one characteristic of Vietnamese culture is filial duty. Education and self-betterment are highly valued. Historically, passing the imperial Mandarin exams was the only means for Vietnamese people to socially advance themselves.

In the socialist era, the cultural life of Vietnam has been deeply influenced by government-controlled media and the cultural influences of socialist programs. For many decades, foreign cultural influences were shunned and emphasis placed on appreciating and sharing the culture of communist nations such as the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and others. Since the 1990s, Vietnam has seen a greater exposure to Southeast Asian, European and American culture and media.

One of the most popular Vietnamese traditional garments is the “Áo Dài”, worn often for special occasions such as weddings or festivals. White Áo dài is the required uniform for girls in many high schools across Vietnam. Áo Dài was once worn by both genders but today it is worn mainly by females, except for certain important traditional culture-related occasions where some men do wear it.

Vietnamese cuisine uses very little oil and many vegetables. The main dishes are often based on rice, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Its characteristic flavors are sweet (sugar), spicy (serrano peppers), sour (lime), nuoc mam (fish sauce), and flavored by a variety of mint and basil.

Vietnamese music varies slightly in the three regions: Bắc or North, Trung or Central, and Nam or South. Northern classical music is Vietnam’s oldest and is traditionally more formal. Vietnamese classical music can be traced to the Mongol invasions, when the Vietnamese captured a Chinese opera troupe. Central classical music shows the influences of Champa culture with its melancholic melodies. Southern music exudes a lively attitude.
See also: Vietnamese art, theatre, dance, and literature

Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Vietnam. Sports and games such as badminton, tennis, ping pong, and chess are also popular with large segments of the population. Volleyball, especially women’s volleyball, is watched by a fairly large number of Vietnamese people. The (expatriate Vietnamese) community forms a prominent part of Vietnamese cultural life, introducing Western sports, films, music and other cultural activities in the nation.
See also: List of Vietnamese traditional games

Vietnam is home to a small film industry.

Among countless other traditional Vietnamese occasions, the traditional Vietnamese wedding is one of the most important. Many of the age-old customs in a Vietnamese wedding continue to be celebrated by both Vietnamese in Vietnam and overseas, often combining both western and eastern elements.

Economy Economy – overview: Vietnam is a densely-populated developing country that in the last 30 years has had to recover from the ravages of war, the loss of financial support from the old Soviet Bloc, and the rigidities of a centrally-planned economy. Since 2001, Vietnamese authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to economic liberalization and international integration. They have moved to implement the structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive export-driven industries. Vietnam’s membership in the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and entry into force of the US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement in December 2001 have led to even more rapid changes in Vietnam’s trade and economic regime. Vietnam’s exports to the US increased 900% from 2001 to 2007. Vietnam joined the WTO in January 2007 following over a decade long negotiation process. WTO membership has provided Vietnam an anchor to the global market and reinforced the domestic economic reform process. Among other benefits, accession allows Vietnam to take advantage of the phase-out of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, which eliminated quotas on textiles and clothing for WTO partners on 1 January 2005. Agriculture’s share of economic output has continued to shrink from about 25% in 2000 to less than 20% in 2008. Deep poverty has declined significantly and is now smaller than that of China, India, and the Philippines. Vietnam is working to create jobs to meet the challenge of a labor force that is growing by more than one-and-a-half million people every year. The global financial crisis, however, will constrain Vietnam’s ability to create jobs and further reduce poverty. As global growth sharply drops in 2009, Vietnam’s export-oriented economy – exports were 68% of GDP in 2007 – will suffer from lower exports, higher unemployment and corporate bankruptcies, and decreased foreign investment. Real GDP growth for 2009 could fall between 4% and 5%. Inflation, which reached nearly 25% in 2008, will likely moderate to single digits in 2009.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $246.6 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $90.88 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 6.3% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $2,900 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 19%
industry: 42.7%
services: 38.4% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 47.41 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 55.6%
industry: 18.9%
services: 25.5% (July 2005)
Unemployment rate: 4.9% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line: 14.8% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 28.9% (2004)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 37 (2004)
Investment (gross fixed): 44.5% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $22.39 billion
expenditures: $24.19 billion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 38.6% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 24.5% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 6.5% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 11.18% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $27.15 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $51.08 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $68.63 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Agriculture – products: paddy rice, coffee, rubber, cotton, tea, pepper, soybeans, cashews, sugar cane, peanuts, bananas; poultry; fish, seafood
Industries: food processing, garments, shoes, machine-building; mining, coal, steel; cement, chemical fertilizer, glass, tires, oil, paper
Industrial production growth rate: 7% (2008 est.)
Electricity – production: 61.02 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 48.08 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 43.7%
hydro: 56.3%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 350,700 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 271,100 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – exports: 394,400 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 271,100 bbl/day (2007)
Oil – proved reserves: 600 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 6.86 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 6.86 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 192.5 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: -$12.74 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $63.73 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: crude oil, marine products, rice, coffee, rubber, tea, garments, shoes
Exports – partners: US 20.8%, Japan 12.5%, Australia 7.3%, China 6.9%, Singapore 4.5% (2007)
Imports: $79.37 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: machinery and equipment, petroleum products, fertilizer, steel products, raw cotton, grain, cement, motorcycles
Imports – partners: China 19.9%, Singapore 12.1%, Taiwan 11%, Japan 9.9%, South Korea 8.5%, Thailand 6% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $5.4 billion in credits and grants pledged by the 2007 Consultative Group meeting in Hanoi (2007)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $22.78 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt – external: $23.72 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $43.06 billion (2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $NA
Currency (code): dong (VND)
Currency code: VND
Exchange rates: dong (VND) per US dollar – 16,548.3 (2008 est.), 16,119 (2007), 15,983 (2006), 15,746 (2005), NA (2004)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 10.8 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 33.2 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: Vietnam is putting considerable effort into modernization and expansion of its telecommunication system, but its performance continues to lag behind that of its more modern neighbors
domestic: all provincial exchanges are digitalized and connected to Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City by fiber-optic cable or microwave radio relay networks; main lines have been substantially increased, and the use of mobile telephones is growing rapidly
international: country code – 84; a landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-3, the C2C, and Thailand-Vietnam-Hong Kong submarine cable systems; the Asia-America Gateway submarine cable system, scheduled for completion by the end of 2008, will provide new access links to Asia and the US; satellite earth stations – 2 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 65, FM 7, shortwave 29 (1999)
Radios: 8.2 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 67 (includes 61 relay, provincial, and city TV stations) (2006)
Televisions: 3.57 million (1997)
Internet country code: .vn
Internet hosts: 84,151 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 5 (2000)
Internet users: 17.87 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 44 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 37
over 3,047 m: 9
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 13
914 to 1,523 m: 10 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 3 (2007)
Heliports: 1 (2007)
Pipelines: condensate/gas 42 km; gas 66 km; refined products 206 km (2008)
Railways: total: 2,600 km
standard gauge: 178 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 2,169 km 1.000-m gauge
dual gauge: 253 km three-rail track combining 1.435 m and 1.000-m gauges (2006)
Roadways: total: 222,179 km
paved: 42,167 km
unpaved: 180,012 km (2004)
Waterways: 17,702 km (5,000 km navigable by vessels up to 1.8 m draft) (2008)
Merchant marine: total: 387
by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 36, cargo 280, chemical tanker 12, container 14, liquefied gas 6, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 32, refrigerated cargo 2, roll on/roll off 1, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 2 (Hong Kong 1, Japan 1)
registered in other countries: 64 (Honduras 1, Liberia 4, Mongolia 23, Panama 30, Tuvalu 5, unknown 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Da Nang, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City
Transportation – note: the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the South China Sea as high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; numerous commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; hijacked vessels are often disguised and cargo diverted to ports in East Asia; crews have been murdered or cast adrift
Military Military branches: People’s Armed Forces: People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) (includes People’s Navy Command (with naval infantry, coast guard), Air and Air Defense Force (Kon Quan Nhan Dan), Border Defense Command), People’s Public Security Forces, Militia Force, Self-Defense Forces (2005)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age (male) for compulsory military service; females may volunteer for active duty military service; conscript service obligation – 2 years (3 to 4 years in the navy); 18-45 years of age (male) or 18-40 years of age (female) for Militia Force or Self Defense Forces (2006)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 24,586,328
females age 16-49: 24,335,132 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 19,190,676
females age 16-49: 20,768,508 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 893,726
female: 834,279 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures: 2.5% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; Cambodia and Laos protest Vietnamese squatters and armed encroachments along border; an estimated 300,000 Vietnamese refugees reside in China; establishment of a maritime boundary with Cambodia is hampered by unresolved dispute over the sovereignty of offshore islands; demarcation of the China-Vietnam boundary proceeds slowly and although the maritime boundary delimitation and fisheries agreements were ratified in June 2004, implementation has been delayed; China occupies the Paracel Islands also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; involved in complex dispute with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, and possibly Brunei over the Spratly Islands; the 2002 “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding “code of conduct” desired by several of the disputants; Vietnam continues to expand construction of facilities in the Spratly Islands; in March 2005, the national oil companies of China, the Philippines, and Vietnam signed a joint accord to conduct marine seismic activities in the Spratly Islands
Illicit drugs: minor producer of opium poppy; probable minor transit point for Southeast Asian heroin; government continues to face domestic opium/heroin/methamphetamine addiction problems despite longstanding crackdowns

Vietnam’s Fishing ‘Militia’ to Defend Against China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘VOICE OF AMERICA’)

 

Vietnam’s Fishing ‘Militia’ to Defend Against China


FILE - A Vietnamese boat (L) which was rammed and then sunk by Chinese vessels near disputed Paracels Islands in 2014.
FILE – A Vietnamese boat (L) which was rammed and then sunk by Chinese vessels near disputed Paracels Islands in 2014.

Vietnam is reported to be quietly developing a state-supported fishing boat militia to hold off China at sea. The fishing militia is being created at a time when the two sides talk about easing territorial disputes.

That is the opinion of experts who follow those disputes.

Vietnam watchers say the country is asking its commercial fishers to use stronger boats and take military-trained people to sea in case of a clash with Chinese fishers. China has its own fishing militia operating in the same waters.

“I think it’s a good policy to avoid future conflicts where militia fishermen are out in the sea,” said Trung Nguyen. He serves as dean of international relations at the Ho Chi Minh University of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Vietnam has been working to develop the fishing militia since at least 2009. Over that time, the two countries have been holding talks. Just last week, Vietnam’s Communist Party general secretary met the visiting Chinese foreign minister. The party official suggested “joint safeguarding (of) maritime peace,” China’s Xinhua News Agency reported.

Vietnam may be trying to appear strong now in case talks fail to produce results, noted Eduardo Araral of the National University of Singapore’s school of public diplomacy.

FILE - A Vietnamese naval soldier stands quard at Thuyen Chai island in the Spratly archipelago.
FILE – A Vietnamese naval soldier stands quard at Thuyen Chai island in the Spratly archipelago.

How the militia works

The Vietnamese fishing militia has not gone to battle with China. If the militia did, it would risk facing the third largest military in the world.

But Vietnamese military forces are arming fishing boats, said Southeast Asia expert Carl Thayer. That may be similar to the deployment of former soldiers to help keep order as needed on land in Vietnam, Thayer noted.

The Vietnamese government requires conscription, he added, so fishermen would already have some military skills.

“Putting them at sea would just be getting people the right age and giving them that training,” he said. “All they did is move what they do on land, how to defend factories … and extend that to sea.

Thayer is emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Thirteen fishing militia platoons have been helping more than 3,000 fishermen work near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. That information comes from a 2017 study by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. China controls the Paracels, but Vietnam also claims the islands.

The study found that more than 10,000 fishermen and about 2,000 fishing boats in southern Vietnam have received military equipment.
In 2014, Vietnam prepared a list of rules to aid fishermen who build “modern large capacity ships” to expand their reach, the study found. It said Vietnamese banks had lent $176 million to fishermen for improvements to about 400 ships.

South China Sea territorial claims map
South China Sea territorial claims map

Record of clashes

China claims about 90 percent of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea. Vietnam says it should control the sea’s waters off its long north-south coastline, extending into the Paracels and Spratly Islands.

Sailors died in clashes between the two countries in 1974 and 1988. In 2014, the deployment of a Chinese oil rig in the South China Sea caused a boat-rammingincident at sea and deadly rioting in Vietnam against Chinese interests.

China has long had its own fishing militia with military support and attention from the Chinese President, notes the United States-based Naval War College. Armed fishing boats help defend China’s maritime claims by pushing away foreign boats, the political intelligence service Stratfor reported in 2016.

Five other governments claim all or parts of the South China Sea. They oppose Chinese efforts to build up and expand islands in the waterway.

Vietnam and China often hold talks about settling maritime problems, but talks often fall short of a decision because of historic distrust, Araral said. He added that Vietnam may be sending China the message that while we talk, we assert our rights.

A Vietnamese fishing militia will not be as large as China’s militia, he said, but Vietnam feels it must try.

I’m Susan Shand

Susan Shand adapted this story from VOA. George Grow was the editor.

Trump: The ‘Coward Of The Country’ Wants A Military Parade

(JUST SOME THOUGHTS FROM AN OLD SERVICE CONNECTED DISABLED VETERAN ABOUT A PERSON (DIFFICULT TO REFER TO HIM AS A MAN) I CONSIDER AS AMERICA’S ‘COWARD-IN-CHIEF’)

Donald Trump, in regards to the military, who is quite possibly the biggest coward to ever sit in the Oval Office now wants to spend millions of tax payer dollars to show off his ‘military balls’. Now this gutless wonder who was able to get either 5 or 6 military deferments (depending on which source you believe) while he was in college for foot issues, some say bone spurs, during the Vietnam War. Now he says he wants to have a military parade in Washington D.C. just like his “good friend” the mass murderer of China, President Xi Jinping and his other good friend, another mass murderer, Russia’s President Putin have in their countries.

 

Mr. Trump whom was able to play college sports yet could not put on our Country’s Uniform now likes to talk trash like he is some kind of a ‘he-man’. He who hid behind his Daddy’s hundreds of millions of dollars to hide in college instead of even going into a branch of Service like the Air National Guard which another Coward-in-Chief George W. Bush did in his attempt to not go to Vietnam. Mr. Trump could have gone in as an Officer yet he was even to much of a coward to do that. I can’t help but wonder how much Mr. Trump really gives a damn about Our Country considering the lessons he learned from his daddy. Remember his Dad was one of the KKK leaders in NYC during the 1920’s-30’s. Also remember his dad attended the Nazi rallies in NYC during the 1930’s leading up to WWII. Do you ever wonder what kind of morals was being talked into little Donnie’s ears as he was growing up?

Tropical Storm Tembin Heads to Vietnam

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WEATHER CHANNEL)

 

Hundreds of Thousands Evacuated as Deadly Tropical Storm Tembin Heads to Vietnam

By Associated Press
Dec 24 2017 09:15 AM EST
weather.com

Story Highlights

Hundreds of thousands in Vietnam have been forced to evacuate ahead of Tropical Storm Tembin’s arrival.

More than 160 people are dead and over 160 are missing in the Philippines due to the storm.

Tembin caused deadly flash floods and landslides in the Philippines.

It s expected to strengthen as it tracks westward.

Hundreds of thousands of residents in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam were told to evacuate Monday as deadly Tropical Storm Tembin tracks westward from the Philippines.

Officials say several hundreds of thousands fled their homes, a majority of which are made of tin sheets and wooden panels. In Vung Tau city, thousands of fishing boats were forced to halt their several-month-long trips to return to the shore.

Tembin caused more than 160 deaths and left 171 missing after it lashed the southern Philippines, triggering flash floods and landslides.

Most of the deaths from Tropical Storm Tembin were in the hard-hit provinces of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur and on the Zamboanga Peninsula, according to an initial government report on storm casualties.

It’s the latest disaster to hit the Philippines, which is battered by about 20 typhoons and storms each year, making the archipelago that lies on the Pacific typhoon belt one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.

(MORE: Southern California’s Thomas Fire Now Largest in State History)

A search and rescue operation was underway for more than 30 people swept away by flash floods in the fishing village of Anungan, Mayor Bong Edding of Zamboanga del Norte province’s Sibuco town said by phone. Five bodies have been recovered so far in the village.

The rest of the deaths were reported in Lanao del Norte, where floodwaters from a mountain also swept away several riverside houses and villagers, and Lanao del Sur, police and officials said.

Lanao del Norte officials reported the highest death toll at 64 with 139 missing followed by Zamboanga del Norte province, where officials reported at least 29 storm deaths with 19 others missing. The storm left 21 dead and one missing in the lakeside province of Lanao del Sur, according to the Department of Interior and Local Government.

More than 97,000 people remain in 261 evacuation centers across the south, while nearly 85,000 more people are displaced and staying elsewhere as of Monday.

An inter-island ferry sank off northeastern Quezon province last week after being lashed by fierce winds and big waves, leaving at least five people dead. More than 250 passengers and crewmen were rescued.

Tembin, known locally as Vinta, strengthened and picked up speed late Saturday, packing maximum sustained winds of 105 kilometers (65 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 145 kph (90 mph). It struck the southern section of western Palawan province late Saturday and is forecast to blow away from the southern Philippines on Sunday toward the South China Sea.

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The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

(History Poem) American History Of My Time

AMERICAN HISTORY OF MY TIME

 

In the depths of 1950’s poverty, Appalachia

Coal dust in your lungs, eyes, nose and hair

Sawdust blankets your morning  work ride

Odd gratitude for working till the day we die

So sad that so many have left us so young

Pathway to Heaven washed in my mothers tears

 

1960’s the enlightenment to some of the Nation’s ills

Poverty and racism is a disease to any and all people on Earth

Three Leaders killed by the hate behind the trigger of a gun

Another Asian War raging on, that we should have never begun

Mr. Johnson and Nixon were all those lives necessary to end

Answer to the families, why was it our policies were not to win

 

The 1970’s to say the least was an odd time in our land

One war ended, but another one was Nixon was set to begin

Surgeon General’s advise was worthless against Nixon’s rage

With the stroke of his pen this War Criminal must have grinned

Nixon’s signature making Class I criminals of freedom loving millions

Peace loving, anti-war, pot heads, Nixon got even for ending Vietnam

 

80’s began with our civilians still illegally imprisoned in Iran

Coward ambushed the President, one didn’t get to walk again

For eight years we had a President who gave us some pride again

From disco to head-banging, to country starting to spur life again

25 Married a second time to a woman who hated the air I breathed

Life through a windshield, it would be till I broke down or died

 

The 1990’s were rough anyway I sliced these years of my life

Heartaches and heart attacks, so many times, VA full of crime

For eight years we had Mr. Bill, had the coolest hair on the Hill

One war in the dust, to save an old friend with oil and our blood

Throw a bomb or two at the bad boy of Baghdad and boys two

When George W. got the job, the three will get to meet their end

 

2000 the new millennium, the computer disaster that wasn’t

The computers people worship, could they create the zero

Married the whole decade, no idea what she sees in me

Sometimes when you pass the time in life you were given

As one’s health fades, and your eyes dim, the Soul still sees

Education and Degrees at this stage in life, quite a surprise

 

When I leave to meet our maker, please shed no tears for me

I thank the Lord each day for the ways I have been blessed

When our body degrades our Soul’s eyes are sometimes grateful

At my funeral please sing Amazing Grace and Peace In The Valley

Please sing our favorite George Straight song, Cross My Heart

As they put me in the ground, sing ‘The Dance’, don’t cry for me

We are all standing in the walkway to Heaven when this life ends

 

No one can ‘contain’ China: Chinese envoy on US selling arms to India

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

No one can ‘contain’ China: Chinese envoy on US selling arms to India

Political analysts in the west have described the sale of arms to India as a US move to contain China.

INDIA Updated: Oct 31, 2017 10:40 IST

Press Trust of India, Washington
US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping walk along the front patio of the Mar-a-Lago estate after a bilateral meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, US.
US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping walk along the front patio of the Mar-a-Lago estate after a bilateral meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, US.(Reuters File Photo)

The Chinese envoy to the US said on Monday that no one could “contain” China now, expressing his displeasure over the formation of an “exclusive club” in the Indo-Pacific region.

Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai was responding to questions on the recent India-centric policy speech by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the decision of the Trump administration to sell to India high-tech military equipment, including state-of-the-art armed drones, and the Japanese proposal of a strategic quadrilateral dialogue involving India and Australia.

“I don’t think that the sales of advanced arms would really serve that purpose,” Cui said.

Political analysts in the west have described the sale of arms to India as a US move to contain China.

“By the way I don’t think anybody would be able to contain China,” the Chinese Ambassador asserted in his rare press conference at the Embassy of China here.

The top diplomat was addressing media ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to China early next month.

Trump is scheduled to embark on a 10-day visit to China. He would also visit Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Cui said China is “open to cooperation among the regional countries” for stability and prosperity.

The relationship between China and India “have been developing quite steadily over the years”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, he said, has always said that Pacific Ocean is large enough to accommodate that development both of China and the US, and the Asia-Pacific region is big enough to accommodate the development of China, India and Japan.

“In this regard I hope all parties will do things conducive to better relations, better mutual trust,” he said.

Without mentioning the recent stand-off between India and China, Cui said he does not think that “confrontation” is in the interest of either of the two countries.

“I’m quite confident that both countries have a clear recognition of what will serve their respective interests best,” he said, responding to a question on India and the move to have a strategic dialogue involving four countries – India, Japan, US and Australia.

Any relationship between any two countries in the region, between any regional country and another country outside of the region should not be a zero sum game, he said when asked about the strengthening of India US relationship, which many say is aimed at China.

“Good relations between China and the US is not at the expense of any other country. The same should be true for relations between US and India and Japan and India,” he said.

It is not in the interest of these countries if their aim is to sort of “contain” China, the top Chinese diplomat said.

Cui said all the regional countries in the Indo-Pacific have shared interests in greater stability, peace and better prospects for prosperity.

In order to achieve that regional countries have to work together and have to promote closer cooperation among them and maybe establish appropriate regional mechanisms, he said.

As such, China is open to cooperation with all its neighbours so that Asia-Pacific will continue to be a peaceful, stable and prosperous region.

“We are following developments in the region very closely and hopefully other countries will have the same approach as we have,” he said, responding to a question on quadrilateral dialogue between India, Japan, US and Australia.

Cui said he does not think that “any attempt to form exclusive clubs in the region following a so-called zero sum approach will help anybody”.

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How the Vietnam War prepared Puerto Ricans to confront crisis

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘WAGINGNONVIOLENCE.ORG)

 

How the Vietnam War prepared Puerto Ricans to confront crisis

Members of Movimiento Pro-Independencia de Puerto Rico picket the White House in March of 1965. (Claridad / Biblioteca Digital UPR Río Piedras)

This week, as Puerto Ricans feel once again like a White House afterthought, it is hard not to conclude that Puerto Rico matters to Washington only when mainland political and business leaders need to conscript the island itself for some larger financial or military purpose.

Consider the impact of Vietnam War policy on Puerto Rico. Thanks to a new Ken Burns documentary and Hurricane Maria, the headlines have us talking simultaneously about Vietnam and Puerto Rico for the first time in 50 years. Today, few Americans remember the impact of the Vietnam War on Puerto Rico. Yet the war struck the island with the force of a political hurricane, tearing at Puerto Rico’s social fabric, raising the same questions of colonialism that are again in the news in the wake of Maria, and fueling its independence movement.

Not unlike Puerto Rico’s recent fiscal crisis, the Vietnam War brought into sharp relief the island’s unequal status as a territory of the United States, particularly after President Lyndon Johnson escalated the war in 1965. Draft-age men in Puerto Rico were subject to the Selective Service Act and called for induction into the U.S. military — even though they had no representative in the Congress that passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, and even though many did not speak English.

A political cartoon published by Claridad in August of 1968.

As a result, Puerto Rico’s independence movement quickly condemned the war and called for widespread draft resistance. In July 1965, Claridad, the newspaper of the Movimiento Pro-Independencia de Puerto Rico, or MPI, published its first antiwar and anti-draft column, stating: “Because Puerto Rico is an American colony, Puerto Ricans are obligated to serve in that country’s army, are used like cannon fodder in imperialist wars carried out against defenseless peoples, wars in which Puerto Rico has no interest.”

One week later the MPI called on Puerto Ricans to resist the draft and condemned American aggression in Vietnam as a guerra sucia — a “dirty war” — against “the heroic people of Vietnam.” In response, students for the first time protested outside the Selective Service’s offices in San Juan.

Soon, the MPI likened its own quest for independence with that of the United States’ enemy in Vietnam. As reported in Claridad, the MPI “expressed its full solidarity with the National Liberation Front in its just fight for independence from North American imperialist dominance” and called on the United States to honor the 1954 Geneva Accords, to withdraw from Vietnam, and “guarantee the independence and neutrality of all of Indochina.”

For the MPI, the draft represented a “blood tax,” a “taxation without representation” that Americans aware of their own revolutionary heritage should have understood. Independentistas pointed to the composition of local draft boards (which were called “juntas” in Spanish) as proof. According to Selective Service Director Lewis Hershey, draft boards were “little groups of neighbors,” best suited to look out for America’s sons. But the MPI complained that the local boards were made up of “members of the richest families, statehood proponents … members of the Lions Club, Rotary, Exchange, Citizens for State 51 and other fiends” who “funneled” the poor into the military. These draft board members were Puerto Rican mandarins, agents of the colonizers.

An image published in the Fall of 1970 by the U.S. Committee for Justice to Latin American Political Prisoners.

In 1965 and 1966, long before a coordinated draft resistance movement took shape stateside, 33 members of MPI and two others refused to be inducted. Prosecutors indicted them promptly. When they went to trial in federal court, the proceedings were conducted in English — which often meant that some of the best Puerto Rican lawyers were unavailable — and if one wanted to appeal a conviction, the appeal was heard 2,700 miles away, in Boston, also in English.

In August 1966, the first Puerto Rican draft resistance case, that of Sixto Alvelo Rodriguez, came to trial. Alvelo won support not only from the MPI — which enlisted the radical New York law firm Rabinowitz, Boudin, and Standard for his defense — but also from mainstream supporters who formed Comite de Defense Sixto Alvelo. More than 200 students signed a statement in support of Alvelo, pledging that they, too, would refuse induction. In September, the court asked Alvelo’s draft board to re-induct him (it never did) and dismissed his case and all other MPI draft resistance cases.

The independence movement interpreted the court’s ruling as a major political victory. The MPI speculated that Alvelo’s case revealed “one of the most tyrannical manifestations of our colonial subjugation” and that Washington had backed down in the face of the threat of thousands of induction refusals in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ricans attending the Fifth Annual Youth Conference of the Pro Independence Movement in Santurce on January 21, 1967. (Claridad / El Mundo, Biblioteca Digital UPR Río Piedras)

At the same time, however, the Selective Service continued to call Puerto Rican men for induction, and support for the draft resistance movement continued to go mainstream. On Mother’s Day in 1967, Puerto Rican mothers organized a protest against the draft in San Juan. The Puerto Rican Bar Association passed a resolution in 1968 calling for the exemption of Puerto Ricans from compulsory U.S. military service, and one year later, the Puerto Rican Episcopal Church passed a resolution at its Diocesan Convention condemning both the war and the conscription of Puerto Ricans.

Federal prosecutors ultimately indicted more than 100 Puerto Rican men, most of whom were convicted. On the day that Edwin Feliciano Grafals — a 26-year-old MPI member who described himself as a “nonreligious conscientious objector” — became the first Puerto Rican draft resister convicted since World War II, students at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras burned down the campus ROTC building. Six weeks later, 10,000 Puerto Ricans marched through San Juan protesting against the draft. “This is the time to decide; you’re either a Yanqui or you’re a Puerto Rican,” MPI leader Juan Mari Bras told the crowd. “Not one more Puerto Rican should convert himself into a criminal by fighting against the Vietnamese people.”

In the end, Puerto Rico’s draft resistance did not end the Vietnam War nor did it win independence. But it did help to prevent further escalation of the war in 1968, and it brought many Puerto Ricans both to the antiwar movement and to the cause of independence. Moreover, draft resistance in Puerto Rico combined with draft resistance throughout the United States to compel the Nixon administration to introduce a draft lottery and, ultimately, end conscription altogether.

Protest against the draft in Puerto Rico and throughout the United States worked because it targeted an institution that few could defend as fair. Today, with the federal government seemingly unable to deliver post-hurricane relief to Puerto Rico in a manner equal to its assistance in Texas and Florida, we have yet one more example of discrimination against a people who right now need only compassion, sympathy and generous aid.

The devastation of Puerto Rico’s recent fiscal crisis (a crisis rooted in mainland lending policies) has now been compounded by natural disaster. It is in moments like these when, as during the Vietnam War, the second-class treatment of Puerto Rico by Washington is most obvious. The island itself has been treated as a conscript by successive U.S. governments for more than a century, for far too long.

The question is how islanders will respond to Washington this time. Will they protest? If so, what form will the protest take? Now may be a good time, in fact, for Puerto Ricans (and for the rest of us) to look to the island’s resistance to the Vietnam War as a model worth following. Fifty years later, it is worth remembering the place of Puerto Rican draft resisters in the American tradition of dissent. And it is worth remembering its place in a tradition of resistance to American colonialism. By escalating protest against the war and by risking their own freedom, Puerto Rican draft resisters kept alive the notion that resistance is a valid mode of citizenship.

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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.

Chinese Former Soldier Brags Of Killing Vietnamese Woman Raping Her 13 Yr Old Daughter

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHINA GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Despite Censorship, a Former Chinese Soldier Brags of His War Crimes Online

Left: Zhang Jingyu. Right: Screenshot of his war crime narrative, first shared via WeChat.

A former Chinese solider boasted to a private chat group this week that during the Sino-Vietnamese War, he killed a Vietnamese woman and raped her teenage daughter.

Chinese authorities have been struggling to contain online outrage in response to the post of Zhang Jingyu, a self-described Maoist patriot, who told his story to a private group on the social media platform WeChat.

Zhang described how in 1979, at just 17 years old, he went into the village of Cao Bang in Vietnam in the midst of a crossfire, where he killed a woman and raped her teenage daughter in the ruin.

Zhang was caught by the head of the combat team and sentenced to one week in solitary confinement after he returned to China. After that, the army dismissed him, but recommended him to a college to study foreign languages.

The brief Sino-Vietnamese War was declared by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979 after Vietnam invaded Cambodia. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army captured Cao Bang near the border area in less than two weeks, but did not enter the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.

Deng claimed victory after one month of fighting, and the Chinese forces suffered great losses. In some Chinese oral history records, Vietnamese soldiers criticized the Chinese army of being crueler than US army, which had pulled out of Vietnam a few years earlier after nearly 20 years in the country. Some other English sources also accused the Chinese army of mass killings of Vietnamese civilians when retreating from Vietnam.

In Zhang’s comments, he showed no remorse for his actions:

Killed her mother, raped her 13-14 year-old daughter. They were all soldiers. During the war, the only good Vietnamese people were the dead ones.

I did it when I was 17.5 years old. Would you dare to do such a thing? If you did not have the courage, I tell you: you would be lying underneath the hero’s tomb. But I’m still alive…

Despite efforts to censor the tale, Zhang’s post has been screen-captured and since has gone viral on Chinese social media. Netizens have widely condemned his actions and called for authorities to investigate the case and clarify the historical facts.

Thus far, there has been no public information regarding an official investigation. But there has been ample censorship of online criticism and discussion about the incident.

Nearly all discussions of the post and associated events have either been censored or are too graphic for public re-distribution. Below is a typical censored comment:

Even if Zhang Jingyu’s story is a fiction and he never raped the teenage girl or he hadn’t been a soldier at all, his narrative has an adverse effect on the People’s Liberation Army. If he is not punished, there will be more Zhang Jingyus or patriotic thugs who stand out to challenge the baseline of humanity. By then, nothing can be done [to undo the wrong]. Censorship or internet shutdowns won’t work.

Those who managed to climb over the Great Firewall left their comments on Twitter. Below is one:

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

·、强奸13岁少女,这在哪个国家都是重罪。可是,在共产党的中国、一名中国人民解放军战士,在犯下如此重罪时,却只受到脱去军装、禁闭一周的处罚。至今,他不仅不忏悔,反而在微博洋洋得意炫耀。请大家记住他的丑陋面貌,并请记住他的名字,他叫:张靖宇,网名:归云楼。
·

#Killing kid’s mother, raping a 13-year-old teenage, these are serious crimes in any country. But in CCP’s China, when a People’s Liberation Army soldier committed such serious crimes, the punishment was dismissed from the army and one week solitary confinement. Till now, he did not have any remorse and boasted about his crime. Please remember this ugly creature and remember his name: Zhang Jingyu. Screen name: Gui Yun Luo.

As all criticisms on Chinese social media platforms were censored, Chinese blogger Li Hanfan decided to praise Zhang for telling the truth about the Sino-Vietnamese War:

Up till now, we had no evidence to prove if Zhang Jingyu was telling the truth. But in my opinion, it now seems more probably that he was telling the truth. Any logical person would not defame themselves with such a serious crime.

If it is not self-defamation, Zhang is reviewing history and retelling historical facts. This should be praised.

The blogger then argued:

What we, in particular our government and our army, need to do now is to investigate if Zhang Jingyu is telling the truth. If he is, then we have to take the history seriously. Our government and army should apologize sincerely to Vietnam and compensate for such serious crimes. We should even send this devil to military court.

Of course, it is also possible that Zhang Jingyu had made up the story, he just wanted to be famous…If this is really the case, our government and army should investigate thoroughly and explained the situation to Vietnam. Then punish the rumor creator who has defamed our admirable soldier.

The response to Zhang’s comments underlines the imbalance that many Chinese netizens see in the state’s approach to so-called “rumors” online. While some types of political content are subject to heavy censorship, others are not.

Earlier this month, officials released new regulations that hold people who run chatrooms and message groups — who are often just regular citizens — criminally liable for the circulation of rumors, scams and politically sensitive topics in such online groups. Many say the crackdown has targeted views that are critical of the Chinese government and party authorities. Yet speech that is framed as being patriotic — even when it is as inhumane and bellicose as Zhang’s — is spared punishment.