|Illustration: The absurd "cow tongue"|
Official newspapers of Vietnam and China these days are reporting contents of the deal reached after deputy minister-level bilateral talks that took place in Beijing in two days of 27 and 28 of February . At the first glance, the new agreement seems normal with frequent nice words such as "thoroughly implement the agreed common understanding of the leadership of the two countries", "deep cooperation", "fair treatment" , "to continue developing stable, healthy bilateral relations for the benefit of the two peoples, for peace, stability and regional cooperation and the world at large ", and so on and so forth. But reading it more closely one would find it unusual. The Youth Newspaper on February 29 issue providing most complete information about the deal in paragraphs: "According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two sides agreed to set up working groups at department level to negotiate the division waters in the Gulf of Tonkin. Sino-Vietnam working groups at department level are to be set up for cooperation in less sensitive areas on the sea, including environmental protection, marine scientific research, search, salvage and rescue and prevention, minimizing damages caused by natural disasters ... and start hot lines between the two foreign ministries to exchange timely, adequate handling matters arising from the sea. "There are two notable phrases: "identifying waters in the Tonkin Gulf "; and " less-sensitive areas on the sea" . They bear the meaning that the East Sea issues are absolutely excluded from the deal. Reading through the entire contents of the agreement one can see only merely that, without a word about Spratly, Paracel and not even words like "fishing", "overlapping regions"," exclusive economic zone " and so on which are the categories constantly violated by Chinese forces against Vietnam! These "missing" contents in such a written bilateral agreement at presence are very remarkable. It is a big "PAUSE"sign (if not a step backwards) comparing with the whole so-called "process of bilateral solution of the East Sea" which China has been boasting about.The contents of this agreement does not reflect the developments since late 2011 now. It is the busy traffic of leaders from the two countries with the sequence of events from a visit to China by Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong of Vietnam last October when the two sides signed The basic principle direction for solving issues of the sea "; followed by the visit of the future leader Xi Jinping of China to Vietnam in December, and dozens of visits back and forth at various senior officials. It is the international public opinion that China is being spurred by the increased presence of U.S. military in Asia-Pacific region while not only Vietnam but the ASEAN countries also have begun to guard against the overwhelming dominance of the northern neighboring giant of China. And these make the Chinese feel worry to change; one of the changes might be to chose Vietnam- a close neighbors and having same socialist ideology to compromise and thereby set an example for the world's peace of mind (!). And it is the less aggressive presence of the Chinese forces on the East Sea. These movements, like it or not, has raised doubts detrimental to Vietnam among ASEAN and international public opinion.This argument is not groundless, as China is welknown with the theory of "white cat, black cat as long as it catches mice", and the leaders of this country had even give up their rigid guidelines in the cultural revolution to change to the pragmatic compromise of Shanghai in 1972 with the United States! Moreover, in the eyes of Americans and many people having no common borders with China, the Chinese civilization is so respectable to cover all the tricks of the leading circles of this country. There is even an U.S. experts who wonders about ability to achieve a demarcation line based on the median line between the coast of Hainan Island and Central Vietnam to cut across the Paracel Islands to the west surrendered for Vietnam (!) (See more here: http://trankinhnghi.blogspot.com/2012/01/toan-tinh-trung-viet-tai-bien-ong.html). It was really a sweet illusion, isn't it ?But such optimism has now that completely lost if we look at the contents of the above said agreement. It is quite easy to guess that Vietnamese negotiators this time were subjected to tremendous pressure to have to sign such so modest deal with nothing new in it. Because they are people who know that it is not reasonable at all for the two sides to resume negotiations only on the Tonkin Gulf while the hot spots of conflict are located in the East Sea. And they are people who know clearer than anyone else that "Chinese friends" had caused problems along the border formed during the French and Manchu time, and then requested Vietnam to negotiate during dozen years still for losses. And now the Chinese are doing the same again only with the waters in the Tonkin Gulf. This means: Wait, it is still a very long way to a solution of the East Sea issues!In summary, we can say with this new agreement, the chances of so-called "bilateral Sino-Vietnamese solution of the East Sea" has been geared at 0. This once more shows how the Chinese are skillful with their tricks of "look at the east, beat in the west" to have been virtually causing misunderstanding and showing rifts among ASEAN countries and the world opinion . With that trick the Chinese mean to play with the time and prolong waiting for an opportunity, but never compromise with anyone. The opportunity for them is when they gain an absolute power, including elimination of the risk of U.S. intervention, in the East Sea. That is why they have been aggressively speeding up the arms-race with a huge defense budget reportedly from 119.8 billion dollars 2011 to 238 billion dollars by 2015, with an average speed of 18.75 % / year.Once China is "strong enough" it will certainly not need to use any labelled negotiations no matter whether bilateral or multilateral. This is a lesson that Vietnam needs to learn so as to identify an appropriate and realistic policy, and not to fall into the enemy's trap again. /.