Thursday, October 27, 2011

Manila, Hanoi forge cooperation on South China Sea

MANILA | Wed Oct 26, 2011 7:24am EDT
MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines and Vietnam on Wednesday signed agreements to expand non-military cooperation of their maritime forces in the South China Sea, avoiding formal military pacts on the disputed waters that could provoke protests from China.The two governments also discussed their desire to push for a multilateral and rules-based approach in resolving disputes in the South China Sea.
Manila invited Hanoi to invest in about 15 oil and gas blocks being offered for exploration in areas outside disputed waters in the South China Sea.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang witnessed the signing of four agreements, including a blueprint for a five-year cooperation in 13 areas that included agriculture, energy, and technology.
The more important deals involved information sharing and creating a hotline to deal with maritime issues, such as piracy, smuggling, disaster response and protection of marine resources.
"The agreements on the establishment of a hotline communications mechanism between our coast guards, and the agreement linking our two navies mark significant progress in ensuring a safer and more secure maritime area," Aquino said after bilateral talks.
Sang promised his government's support for Manila's proposal for a Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation (ZoPFFC) in the South China Sea. The proposal will complement implementing guidelines of an informal code of conduct by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China.
"We again confirmed the importance of the maintenance of peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation in the East Sea," Sang said, adding he hopes ASEAN would come up with a binding code.
Vietnam refers to the South China Sea as East Sea, while the Philippines calls it West Philippine Sea.
Officials said Sang assured Aquino that the six-point pact signed by Vietnam and China this month on the South China Sea would not go against the multilateral and rules-based approach pushed by Manila in resolving disputes.
Manila and Hanoi had protested earlier this year China's activities in the South China Sea, and both had planned a joint complaint on Beijing's claim in the disputed waters.
The Philippines, Vietnam, China and two other Southeast Asian states have conflicting claims over parts of the South China Sea, a potentially oil- and gas-rich body of water spanned by key shipping lanes.
(Reporting By Manny Mogato; Editing by Rosemarie Francisco)

US gas find off Vietnam adds to China tension

Financial Times
By Ben Bland in Hanoi, Leslie Hook in Beijing and Sheila McNulty in Houston

American oil major ExxonMobil has made a “potentially significant” gas discovery off the coast of Vietnam in an area that is also claimed by China.
The find brings the bitter territorial dispute over the resource-rich South China Sea back into focus at a time when leaders in both Communist nations have been trying to play down tensions.
China has become more vocal about its claims to the South China Sea in recent years, and Chinese vessels have several times tangled with Vietnamese and Japanese ships in contested waters this year.
In May, PetroVietnam, Vietnam’s state oil and gas monopoly, claimed that Chinese ships had harassed and damaged its oil exploration ships on more than occasion.
ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil group by market capitalisation, said in a brief statement on Wednesday that it had “encountered hydrocarbons” after drilling a second well in block 118 off the coast of Danang, central Vietnam, in August.
The company did not comment on the size of the discovery, saying that it was analysing the data from the second well after its first well failed to find oil or gas.
But an executive from another oil company prospecting nearby said that this was “a potentially significant find”, given the geology of the area. An executive from PetroVietnam, ExxonMobil’s production partner, said that they had found gas.
ExxonMobil has a licence from the Vietnamese government to explore blocks 117, 118 and 119 off the coast of Danang. This area falls well within what Vietnam claims is its 200-mile exclusive economic zone under international maritime law.
But these blocks also fall within China’s vast claim to almost the entire South China Sea, also claimed in part by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan as well as Vietnam. The sea is thought to contain substantial oil and gas reserves and encompasses key global trade routes and important fisheries.
China has pressed international oil companies, including BP and ExxonMobil, to withdraw from oil and gas exploration deals with Vietnam, according to industry executives and leaked American diplomatic cables that have been published online by Wikileaks.
A confidential American diplomatic cable sent from then ambassador Michael Michalak to Washington in July 2009 claimed that ExxonMobil “quietly signed” a production-sharing agreement with PetroVietnam in order to minimise any negative reactions from China.
The agreement covered blocks 117,118 and 119, which Mr Michalak said lay “well within China’s line of demarcation”.
Beijing has consistently said that China opposes oil and gas exploration in what it considers its territorial waters.
The foreign ministry said Thursday it was too soon for them to comment on reports of the ExxonMobil discovery.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


"India-Vietnam joint work  must be halted" is the title of an editorial on the Global Times - an  official mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China on  its issue of  Nov.14, 2011. 

I think, it is not just a headline but a threat. Inside the article contains may words of threatening not only to India and Vietnam but also other nations concerned . It makes sense that any reader can see the absurdity when a country gives itself the right to interfere  in the external relations of other nations.  It is so negative itself  by causing doubts about the goodwill, if any, of   the heads of the Chinese Party and State  just expressed  to the people of Vietnam and the world during the ongoing high-level visit of the Vietnamese Secretary General  Nguyen Phu  Trong. 

I wonder if the author of this editorial as well as Beijing leaders could  foresee the consequences of this type of  propaganda or not (?) Just read some comments full of extremist nationalism and war-like passion below this article we will see how dangerous it  has caused. 
You can read the original aditorial and comments via thislink:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Vietnam and Phillipines work on bilateral cooperation Updated October 07, 2011 11:45 PM 

HANOI (Xinhua) - Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pham Binh Minh, and his Philippine counterpart Albert F. Del Rosario, co-chaired the 6th meeting of the Vietnam-Philippines Joint Committee for Bilateral Cooperation here on Friday.
The two sides reviewed and evaluated results from the implementations of the agreements approved at the 5th meeting held in the Philippines in February 2008 and the Vietnam-Philippines Plan of Actions during 2007-2010.
They also set forth measures to promote cooperation in some concrete fields in the coming time, including the signing of the Vietnam-Philippines Plan of Actions for 2011-2016 aimed at further deploying the "Joint Declaration on the Framework of Bilateral Cooperation in the first 25 years of the 21st century and years to come".
Both sides were pleased at the fine development of their friendly relations and comprehensive cooperation after 35 years of official diplomatic ties. They highly evaluated the recent visit to Vietnam by Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III, and the on-going visit by Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario, and agreed to continue the exchange of both sides' high-ranking visits and those at different levels.
The two sides agreed to soon establish the Vietnam-Philippines and the Philippines-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentary Groups aimed at enhancing relations and cooperation between the two parliaments.
Measures were set forth to promote cooperation in various fields including economic, trade, investment, security and defense, maritime, agriculture, forestry and seafood, energy security, culture and tourism, training and education, and sciences and technologies.
The two sides agreed to boost two-way trade turnover to reach $3 billion by 2016.
Both sides also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual concern.                     The two sides agreed to hold the 7th meeting in the Philippines in 2013.
On the same day, Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang received Albert F. Del Rosario at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Over the Horizon : Is worrying about war with China a self-fulfilling prophecy?

PF-FForeign Policy

Is it possible that, a decade after 9/11, America has become too preoccupied with the threat from "nonstate actors" and too complacent about the more classic dangers posed by powerful and self-aggrandizing states? Or, put more succinctly, how afraid of China should the United States be?
We know, of course, that China owns $1.5 trillion worth of U.S. Treasury bills and thus has the U.S. economy by the short hairs; that China refuses to significantly revalue the renminbi and thus retains its colossal imbalance in trade with the United States; and that China has begun to buy American real estate and other assets (including, perhaps, the Los Angeles Dodgers). But should Americans regard China as a national security threat and not merely an economic one?

The authors of "Asian Alliances in the 21st Century," a report published by the Project 2049 Institute, a conservative think tank that focuses on East Asia, insist that we must. (The lead author is American Enterprise Institute scholar Dan Blumenthal of Foreign Policy's Shadow Government blog.) The report concludes that "China's military ambitions threaten America's Asian allies, raise questions about the credibility of U.S. alliance pledges, and imperil the U.S. military strategy that underpins its global primacy."
This is startling news to those of us who think of China as a "status quo" power, a view that until recently was widely shared in the academic and policy community. In Power Shift: China and Asia's New Dynamics, published in 2006, David Shambaugh, a leading China scholar, concludes that "China is increasingly seen as a good neighbor, constructive partner, and careful listener." Shambaugh and others wrote then that China had emerged from a long era of suspicion and insularity and had begun to join regional organizations, send peacekeepers to U.N. missions, and improve bilateral relations in the neighborhood. Yes, China's military was rapidly modernizing in ways that gave the Taiwanese a fright, but such signs of belligerence had been offset, Shambaugh concluded, by "bilateral and multilateral confidence-building measures."
But five years is a long time for a country growing, and changing, as rapidly as China. "Asian Alliances" argues, in effect, that China has now fully emerged from its defensive crouch. In recent years, China has developed a new generation of ballistic and cruise missiles, attack submarines, tactical and stealth aircraft, radar, and space-based intelligence, as well as an anti-satellite missile, which together give it the capacity to establish "contested zones" in air, sea, and space, and thus push the United States further and further out from regions of the Pacific that it has long patrolled and protected. And China's behavior in the neighborhood has turned markedly bellicose, aggressively pursuing its claim to islands in the South China Sea and sending its blue-water navy on long-range exercises off the Japanese coast. It's for this reason that Robert D. Kaplan wrote in the current issue of FP that the future of conflict lies not in the sands of the Middle East but the open water of the South China Sea.
It seems odd that a country so famously patient and slow-gestating would have so radically, and so quickly, changed its posture to the world. Maybe that careful listening was an elaborate show, or a transitional phase. Elizabeth Economy, a China scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that China's peaceful rise was never more than a "rhetorical formulation"; only now, however, has China's military capacity and its rhetoric caught up with its long-held aspirations to expand its sphere of dominance in East Asia. U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has not accepted that view, but has nevertheless warned China to play by the rules of the international system. In the 2009 speech in which he coined the phrase "strategic reassurance," then-Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg noted that China's "enhanced capabilities" and "overbroad assertion of its rights" in the South China Sea had caused Washington and its allies to "question China's intentions."

Monday, October 3, 2011

Time to teach those around South China Sea a lesson

Global Times (China) | September 29, 2011 19:55
By Long Tao

Time to teach those around South China Sea a lesson
Illustration: Liu Rui

No South China Sea issue existed before the 1970s. The problems only occured after North and South Vietnam were reunified in 1976 and China’s Nansha and Xisha Islands then became the new country’s target.
Unfortunately, though hammered by China in the 1974 Xisha Island Battle and later the Sino-Vietnamese War in 1979, Vietnam’s insults in the South China Sea remained unpunished today. It encouraged nearby countries to try their hands in the “disputed” area and attracted the attention of the US so that a regional conflict gradually turned international.
China, concentrating on interior development and harmony, has been ultimately merciful in preventing such issue turning into a global affair so that regional peace and prosperity can be secured.
But it is probably the right time for us to reason, think ahead and strike first before things gradually run out of hands.
It seems all the countries around the area are preparing for an arms race.
Singapore brings home high-end stealth aircraft while Australia, India and Japan are all stockpiling arms for a possible “world-class” battle. The US, provoking regional conflict itself, did not hesitate to meet the demands of all of the above.
It’s very amusing to see some of the countries vow to threaten or even confront China with force just because the US announced that it has “returned to Asia.”
The tension of war is escalating second by second but the initiative is not in our hand. China should take part in the exploitation of oil and gas in South China Sea.
For those who infringe upon our sovereignty to steal the oil, we need to warn them politely, and then take action if they don’t respond.
 We shouldn’t waste the opportunity to launch some tiny-scale battles that could deter provocateurs from going further.
By the way, I think it’s necessary to figure out who is really afraid of being involved in military activities. There are more than 1,000 oil and gas wells plus four airports and numerous other facilities in the area but none of them is built by China.
Everything will be burned to the ground should a military conflict break out. Who’ll suffer most when Western oil giants withdraw?
But out there could just be an ideal place to punish them. Such punishment should be restricted only to the Philippines and Vietnam, who have been acting extremely aggressive these days.
The Afghanistan and Iraq Wars have already set some bad examples for us in terms of the scale of potential battles, but the minnows will get a reality check by the art of our move.
Many scholars believe that the US presence in this area caused our inability to sort the mess out.
However, I think US pressure in the South China Sea should not be taken seriously, at least for now given the war on terror in the Middle East and elsewhere is still plaguing it hard.
The Philippines, pretending to be weak and innocent, declared that mosquitoes are not wary of the power of the Chinese elephant.
The elephant should stay restrained if mosquitoes behave themselves well. But it seems like we have a completely different story now given the mosquitoes even invited an eagle to come to their ambitious party. I believe the constant military drill and infringement provide no better excuse for China to strike back.
However, being rational and restrained will always be our guidance on this matter. We should make good preparations for a small-scale battle while  giving the other side the option of war or peace.
Russia’s decisive move on Caspian Sea issues in 2008 proved that actions from bigger countries might cause a shockwave for a little while but will provide its region with long-term peace.
The author is the strategic analyst of China Energy Fund Committee.

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