Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sea and islands sovereignty: When the top leader states


In the public expectation , today (11/25/2011) Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has just concluded his presentation at the National Assembly  at 11h20. The important thing lies  not in the event itself  but in its content, and Prime Minister have well done with this. Just hours after, many "right side" and "left side" online papers simultaneously transmitted content of his speech . The Vn-Express ran an impressiv headline "Vietnam claims the Paracel Islands in peace" with a more clear-cut opening sentence: "Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung stressed that Vietnam must be resolved and confirmed sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) islands that had been forcibly occupied by China in 1974 ".  

According to my knowledge, this is the first time a top leader of Vietnam has made such complete official statement on the country's stance regarding the sovereignty of the two archipelagoes of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa . Objectively speaking, it is a perfect reply of the Prime Minister in front of the National Assembly, particularly when some"strange statements"are heard from a number of officials and MPs that have hurt the public opinion too much. Unlike them,  the Prime Minister  said briefly, but clearly, complete  with  historical evidenceswhen needed. Prime Minister has shown his straight and clear-cut attitude, not babbling when mentioning about the sovereignty of the country, thus significantly helps to calm down the public which is in a pressing situation due to long lack of  transparent explainations from the country's leadership on issues related to territorial and sea islands sovereignty as well as the fate of millions of fishermen suffering  continuos serious acts of violation by the Chinese side. It is worth noting that, unlike those often consider this matter as "delicate", the Prime Minister has not avoided using  concrete terms and specific stances. In the name of a top state leader of Vietnam the  Prime Minister has sent out to the world a clear message about the stance of Vietnam national sovereignty issues associated sea-waters and  islands, including Hoang Sa and Truong Sa . This move is welcome by all the Vietnamese people of and international friends.    

You can read the full text view heard the Prime Minister's speech (in Vietnamese) here:
* Clip : The Prime Minister answered questions on China Sea

Followings are English translations of key contents (in 4 groups of issues) extracted from the speech for your convenient reference.

1) For the overlapping area in the Bac bo Gulf (Gulf of Tonkin),
"In the Bac bo Gulf, after years of negotiations Vietnam and China have achieved a demarcation in 2000. The waters of off-shore the Halong Bay gate, according to Convention of  the Law of the Sea, Vietnam's continental shelf overlaps with that of Chinese Hainan Island. Since 2006 the two sides negotiated until 2009 decided to suspend negotiations due to much different opinions from each other "...;
" Pending an assignment, the two sides have in practice formed  self-management zones on the basis of the middle line "...;
2) For the Hoang Sa islands(Paracel),
"We mastered  Hoang Sa islands , at least from the 17th century when they were  not of any country. We have mastered the islands in practice and continuous peace";

"1974 China forcibly occupied the entire Hoang Sa (then in the control of the Saigon government), the Government of Republic of Vietnam  protested condemning the invasion and proposed the United United Nations to intervene. the Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam was also made a statement denoucing that act of occupation ";

"Our consistent policy is that Hoang Sa islands belong to Vietnam. We have sufficient evidence and legal history to confirm this. But we sponsor policy of negotiated settlement which requires all rights to the islands by peaceful means. This policy is consistent with the UN Charter, in accordance with Law of the Sea Convention ";

3) For the Truong Sa islands (Spretly) ,
" In 1975 the Vietnamese Navy took over the five islands from the management of the military government of Saigon . The sovereignty of Vietnam expand over 21 islands with 33 points stationed and  built 15 rigs  to assert sovereignty in those waters which fall within 200 nautical miles of the continental shelf and exclusive economic zones of Vietnam ";

" Vietnam is the only country that has residents settling down on some islands, including six newly born and raised on the islands ";

4) The dispute resolution policy,
"Vietnam policy strictly follows the Law of the Sea Convention, the DOC and the principles of the agreement recently signed with China. Vietnam requires the parties to keep status quo, not to complicate the situation to affect peace and stability to this region. " Vietnam also continues to invest in upgrading economic infrastructure and technical facilities in places in oder  to keep, to improve lives and strengthen self-defense capability for the military and civilians over the Truong Sa islands " ;

"For the sea waters in the Eas Sea, Vietnam ​​seriously requires the parties to strictly comply with the Law of the Sea Convention of 1982 and declared DOC  to ensure peace, stability, security security and order, freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. This stance of Vietnam was to support the international community, most recently at the ASEAN summit and ASEAN senior partners./.

Friday, November 25, 2011

China violates Vietnam's sovereignty at Paracel archipelago

Vietnam's Foreign Ministry stated on November 24, 2001 that China authorizing rourist exploitation  at the Paracel archipelago is a violation of Vietnam's sovereignty.

Vietnamese Luong Thanh Nghi spokesman.

The statement was made following news that  Chinese Hainan province's authority has granted  permission for one of its tourist company to organize tourist visits from the Province to the Paracel islands. Vietnam's Foreign Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi asserted that the above mentioned activity of a violation of China against Vietnam's sovereignty.
"Vietnam has confirmed its undisputed sovereignty for both the Paracels and the Spratlys", said Luong Thanh Nghi  in the  regular press conference in Hanoi.
"All the activities of foreigners in this area without the consent of Vietnam is a violation of the sovereignty of Vietnam and goes against the spirit of DOC" as stated in the Joint Statement on codes of conduct on the East Sea that China signed with ASEAN.
The  Foreign Affairs spokesman reiterated Vietnam's stand that peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation in the East Sea are common interests of  the region and of the world.
"The parties concerned should solve disputes through peaceful means, in compliance with international law, particularly the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS 1982)", he said . "Vietnam welcomes  ASEAN and China have agreed to fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea aiming to establish a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC)".
During the press conference the Foreign Ministry spokesman also reacted to the U.S. military deployment in Australia as saying : "We hope that the cooperation between nations will contribute positively and responsibly to the joint efforts to maintain peace, stability and cooperation in the region and the world". 
During his recent Asian tour  U.S. President Barack Obama vowed to deploy a total of 2,500 Marines to northern Australia. (Reporter Phan Le)
Source: Vn-Expess online  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sino-US war unlikely but not impossible

Global Times | November 15, 2011 23:01
By Global Times

Sino-US war unlikely but not impossible
Luo Yuan (罗援)
Editor's Note:
A recent report released by the RAND Corporation, a US think tank specializing in military studies, examined the prospect of China and the US going to war, but concluded it improbable. What is the ultimate red line for a major military conflict between the two powers? Will the US back other Asian countries in provoking China? Global Times (GT) reporter Wang Wenwen talked to Major General Luo Yuan (Luo), deputy secretary-general of the PLA Academy of Military Sciences, and Robert M. Farley (Farley), a professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce in the University of Kentucky, on these issues.
GT: Some people predict that China will be a real competitor for the US in the next few decades. Do you think a war between China and the US will ever occur? If it does occur, what can be the trigger?
Luo: At the current stage, both countries don't have the desire to start a war, nor do they have the capability. However, if China's core interests such as its sovereignty, national security and unity are intruded on, a military conflict will be unavoidable.
Farley: I think that war is unlikely, but not impossible. Both countries have a lot to lose, both from the conflict itself and the overall fallout. If war does occur, I suspect that the trigger will be a miscalculation over Taiwan, or possibly North Korea. Some in the US might feel compelled to defend Taiwan following a declaration of independence; a North Korean collapse will lead to competition over the new structure of politics on the Korean Peninsula. 
The first and most important consequence is that Americans and Chinese will die.
Robert M. Farley
GT: What will be the consequence if a military conflict happens?
Luo: The war could cause destruction to both sides, with the US having more to lose. China is the largest foreign holder of US debt. The US dare not irritate China easily, and China is also tied to the US. If a war starts, the two countries will suffer economic losses immediately. As both countries have nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, the consequence will be disastrous if the war escalates.
Farley: The first and most important consequence is that Americans and Chinese will die. Another major consequence will be a severing of the US-China economic relationship no matter who wins the war, which could induce another global financial collapse and throw much of the world into a very severe recession.
GT: The RAND report says the war may start over China's border countries or regions like North Korea, India, the South China Sea or Taiwan Straits. Do you think so?
Luo: The US is a pragmatic country. It will try to trigger a war in other countries or regions to deplete their powers while maintaining its own safety. The US will not really get involved into a war if the harm is greater than the benefits. Even if it does get involved, it won't sacrifice itself for its allies.
Robert M. Farley
Farley: I doubt that the US will become engaged in the South China Sea in any but a supporting role. However, the Taiwan situation is ripe for miscalculation by all the parties involved. I'm a bit less worried about either India or North Korea. While the US and India have been building a good relationship, the focus of Indian foreign policy remains on Pakistan, and previous Indo-Pakistani wars haven't dragged either China or the US in. In North Korea, I'm optimistic that diplomats will be able to work out the major issues without war.
GT: Will the US draw China's neighboring countries to its side to rival with China?
Luo: Definitely. The US has already display its power through China's neighboring countries. For example, it has conducted naval exercises amid growing tensions with China over disputed waters in the South China Sea. It sells arms worth millions of dollars to India as a sign of its desire to deepen defense cooperation with that nation.
Farley: The US will definitely attempt to rely on some of its allies. If North Korea does become a flashpoint, Japan is quite likely to become involved, as well as South Korea. Naval conflict in the South China Sea would almost certainly involve Vietnam and the Philippines. The big question mark is Taiwan, where it's unclear that anyone but the US would be interested in defending the island. Japan has substantial economic connections with Taiwan island, but then it also has such connections with the Chinese mainland.
The US will not really get involved into a war if the harm is greater than the benefits.
Luo Yuan
GT: Some US military sources say the US can easily destroy China's small nuclear arsenal. What do you think? Can a nuclear war ever happen?
Luo: This is not the first time that the Americans have made such crazy remarks. It should be noted that everybody is vulnerable to nuclear attack. Although China has pledged no first-use of nuclear weapons, it will not keep them just on display in life-and-death moments for the nation.
Farley: I think the Chinese nuclear arsenal is very vulnerable to US attack right now, and probably will remain so for some time. However, I also think that the US would be extremely reluctant to start a nuclear war. The problem is again miscalculation. If China believes that the US is likely to launch an attack on its nuclear forces, it might be inclined to use those assets to pre-empt the US attack.
GT: The RAND report believes that conflict between China and the US is more likely to occur in the field of the Internet or economy. What can be the consequence of an Internet war? What would be the intensity and consequence of an economic war?
Luo: The US is good at covering up its own misdeeds by shifting the blame on other countries. It accuses China of being the center of Internet crime.
However, the US established a cyber command to start an online arms race. Not only the armed forces, but also ordinary people of both sides will be involved if an Internet war occurs.
Farley: An economic war would have very serious consequences for the global economy. Everyone around the world would hurt in the short term. In the long term, we would likely see a shift to regional trade blocs around the great powers, rather than the global free trade that prevails today.
GT: To avoid a war between China and the US, what can be done by both sides?
Luo: The main conflicts between China and the US are reflected in the fields of politics, economy, national security and interests. Only when the US gives up Cold War ideas can these conflicts be eased. Both countries should respect each other's way of development and not provoke other's core interests. But I doubt whether the US can do this.
Farley: The best solution is to make sure that the two sides understand each other's negotiating positions very, very well. Dense relationships between the US and China across various spheres will help create groups that have a vested interest in preventing war, and that understand each other well enough to appreciate the dangers of specific flashpoints.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

No united Asean stand vs China?

NUSA DUA, Indonesia – Southeast Asian nations yesterday backed away from establishing a united front against China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, as Beijing warned against the initiative.
The Philippines is pushing for a joint stand on the issue among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ meeting on Indonesia’s Bali island this week, according to an internal document obtained by AFP.
China has caused disquiet in Washington and Asian capitals with its claim to all of the South China Sea, a region that encompasses vital shipping lanes and which is believed to sit atop vast oil and mineral reserves.
China’s rival Taiwan, as well as ASEAN countries the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, also lay claim to all or part of the area, and Manila pushed for a meeting of all six countries involved.
But Beijing, which prefers to negotiate individually with its weaker neighbors, said it was not appropriate to discuss territorial rows at the East Asia Summit, which will take place in Bali this week.
“China believes that the disputes should be resolved through peaceful consultations between parties directly concerned,” China’s assistant foreign minister Liu Zhenmin told journalists at a briefing in Beijing.
“The intervention of outside forces is not helpful for the settlement of the issue, on the contrary it will only complicate the issue and sabotage peace and stability and development in the region,” he said in an apparent reference to the United States, which is joining the East Asia Summit this year.
Beijing’s economic and political clout mean that ASEAN members cannot afford to cause offence, making the establish- ment of a unified position difficult.

“China is showing a positive step by organising seminars and workshops, that is very positive. ASEAN should recipro- cate on that,” Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman told AFP.
“To introduce another forum will com- plicate the matter further,” he said, adding it was more constructive to concentrate on a non-binding declaration of conduct, even though critics have dismissed it as toothless.
Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Hor Namhong also declined to support Ma- nila’s proposal.
“We are not against,” he told AFP, laughing, before adding: “The problem is how to avoid... duplication.”
ASEAN secretary general Surin Pitsu- wan indicated the concept was being put on the diplomatic back burner, saying it “remains to be discussed further”.
He echoed other ministers’ views that the region should focus on a legally bind- ing code of conduct, which has eluded agreement for years.
“That issue is gaining momentum and we are making progress. There will be some efforts here and there in order to strengthen this momentum,” he said.
Phl pushing for ‘zone of peace’
Despite this, the Philippines remains committed to pushing for a “zone of peace” with China at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) sum- mit here this week to settle the volatile West Philippine Sea territorial disputes.
China, on the other hand, opposes discussing claims to the South China Sea at the summit. China wants individual negotiations to settle the claims in the potentially oil-rich region.
“The Philippines believes that a rules- based approach is the only legitimate way in addressing disputes in the West Phil- ippine Sea (South China Sea),” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said yesterday at the ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting here.
The government also plans to pursue other means such as third party adjudica- tion, arbitration or conciliation as may be appropriate in the context of the dispute settlement mechanism of the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Del Rosario said the rules-based ap- proach was embodied in the “zone of peace, freedom, friendship, and coopera- tion.”
“We believe that the ‘zone of peace’ is the actionable framework to clarify and segregate the disputed land features from the non-disputed waters of the West Phil- ippine Sea, and in the process, address the issue of the nine-dash line. This process of segregation would have enabled a work- able cooperation between and among ASEAN and China, especially the littoral and claimant states in the South China Sea,” he said.
The “zone of peace” is consistent with the rules-based framework of managing the disputes in the West Philippine Sea and is, likewise, pursuant to the DOC (Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea), Del Rosario added.
He said ASEAN should play a positive and meaningful role to contribute in the peaceful resolution of the disputes in the South China Sea.
US wants access to South China Sea
President Obama said during the re- cently concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Hawaii that he wanted the United States to have un- controlled access in the South China Sea when he attends the ASEAN summit in Indonesia.
“We’re going to be speaking, again, about how can we, a great Pacific power, work with our (ASEAN) partners to ensure stability, free flow of commerce, maritime rules and drilling and a whole host of issues are managed in an open and fair way,” Obama said.
He made the statement in response to a query made by journalist Jim McNerney about his main agenda in his subsequent visit to Australia, another US ally.
By “drilling,” the US leader meant oil explorations in the disputed Spratlys area. Admiral Robert Willard of the US Pacific Command has confirmed that the US government has interests in the South China Sea since such lane carries $5.3 trillion in bilateral annual trade.
“South China Sea is a very important maritime common for the entire region. So the South China Sea region and the sea lanes that it contains are incredibly vital to the region, to our partners and allies, and certainly to the US,” Willard said.
President Aquino had earlier said that Forum Energy, an American firm, will start oil explorations north of Palawan that would “dwarf” the Malampaya oil fields.
Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras confirmed Aqui- no’s statement that Forum Energy’s oil explorations will be under way early next year.
the disputed oil-rich Spratly Islands.
Aquino, Almendras and presidential spokesman Ed- win Lacierda have all main- tained that Recto Bank in Palawan, which is 80 nautical miles from the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone, does not fall within
Aquino added that the pur- ported nine-dash line that China has belatedly invoked cannot reach Recto Bank, which is 500 miles away from its mainland. He said it has been known to be the Philip- pines’ property in 1982 and that China claimed it only in 2009.
Aurea Calica, Delon Porcalla, AP
Source: The Philippine Star

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