Thursday, May 29, 2014
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Source: VNA May 28, 2014
|A Chinese Coast Guard vessel chases and threatens a ship of Vietnamese fishermen. — Photo VNA|
HA NOI (VNS) — China's oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 was moved to a new site yesterday, but it was still completely within Viet Nam's continental shelf, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
The Vietnamese Consulate Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday summoned representatives from the Chinese Embassy in Ha Noi and handed them a diplomatic note protesting against all of China's recent actions.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh also issued a statement saying that the new position of the rig still violated Viet Nam's sovereign rights and jurisdiction.
Binh was responding to an announcement on Monday by the China Maritime Safety Administration that the rig had been moved from 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude to 15 degrees 33 minutes 38 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 62 seconds east longitude.
"Viet Nam resolutely opposes the action and requests China to immediately stop the rig's operation, withdraw it and escort service ships from Viet Nam's waters, and not repeat such acts," he said.
"Viet Nam has full legal foundations and historical evidence to assert its undeniable sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago."
Binh said China used force to occupy the Hoang Sa archipelago and its action violated international law.
He added that occupation by force could not establish China's sovereignty over the archipelago.
At 5:30am yesterday, the rig was moved four nautical miles east-northeast at a speed of 4.5 nautical miles per hour.
This was revealed by the deputy head of the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department, Ha Le, at a press conference in Ha Noi.
At 10am, the rig was anchored at a new site, 25 nautical miles east-southeast of Tri Ton Island in Viet Nam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, 23 nautical miles east-northeast of its previous location.
Vietnamese observation vessels have maintained their presence about six nautical miles from the rig.
Le quoted the fisheries surveillance force as saying that during the move, China kept the same number of ships, but they operated at a higher intensity.
Planes in action
Two Chinese planes constantly swept over the rig as it was moving.
China also deployed larger and higher capacity vessels operated by military and marine surveillance units.
The Chinese ships continued to ram and fire water cannons at Vietnamese vessels, pushing them far away from the illegal rig.
China's marine police patrol vessels, tugs and transport were divided into groups to get closer to Vietnamese law-enforcement ships, shoving them 10 nautical miles from the rig.
Chinese "fishing ships" hindered and threatened Vietnamese fishing boats operating 15 nautical miles from the rig. They also made a dangerous push against the Vietnamese boats.
China's warships also heightened their activities,even pointing naval guns at Viet Nam's fisheries surveillance vessels.
Viet Nam has demanded Chinese vessels stop aggressive action against Vietnamese fishermen.
The Foreign Ministry said the Chinese had been chasing and threatening them with violence completely within Viet Nam's sea area.
"Once again, Viet Nam demands China stop its inhumane actions, endangering lives and damaging the property and legitimate interests of Vietnamese fishermen," said ministry spokesman Binh.
He asked the Chinese to respect international law, punish those responsible in earnest, pay adequate compensation and prevent a repeat of the behaviour.
Vietnamese agencies familiar with the situation have reported that since early May, many Vietnamese fishing boats have repeatedly been disrupted from their work and driven off by Chinese ships.
Chinese forces have also beaten and injured Vietnamese fishermen, threatening their lives.
Binh said the China's actions violated Viet Nam's sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the East Sea.
He said it also ran counter to the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC).
At the beginning of May, China illegally placed the rig Haiyang Shiyou – 981 rig, as well as a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft, at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude. The location was 80 nautical miles inside Viet Nam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.
Chinese ships have repeatedly rammed and fired water cannons into Vietnamese coast guard and fisheries surveillance ships performing law enforcement missions in Viet Nam's waters, leaving many Vietnamese boats damaged and officers injured.World takes notice
International news agencies and media yesterday posted articles highlighting the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat by Chinese vessels.
France's AFP news agency reported that the attack occurred after the Vietnamese boat was encircled by 40 Chinese vessels.
The boat was sunk about 17 nautical miles southwest from where the oil rig was placed. Ten fishermen on board were rescued by other Vietnamese vessels.
The news agency also quoted Japanese Government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga as describing China's act as "extremely dangerous".
Meanwhile, Britain's BBC radio highlighted a statement by the Vice Chairman of Viet Nam's National Assembly, Huynh Ngoc Son.
He described China's ramming of boats as "terrorist attacks" aiming to intimidate Vietnamese fishermen.
The BBC reported that Viet Nam was preparing to take China to an international tribunal over the placement of the rig and the many ramming incidents.
The radio Voice of Russia and other major global news outlets, such as the US's Bloomberg, Australia's ABC and the Britain's Guardian, all highlighted the event.
The Viet Nam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO) and the Viet Nam Youth Union (VYU) have called on organisations, individuals, political circles and peace-loving people throughout the world to continue requesting China to immediately withdraw its oil rig and surrounding ships from Viet Nam's waters.
In a letter released yesterday, VUFO expressed its concern about China's placement of the oil rig and a large number of ships and planes on Viet Nam's continental shelf.
It said that China's unilateral deed seriously violated Viet Nam's sovereign rights over an exclusive economic zone and continental shelf and ignored the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) between China and ASEAN nations.
VUFO also accused China of infringing the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), saying that its move threatened peace, stability and security in the region and the world, as well as negatively affects the friendship and cooperation between the two countries.
It expressed deep gratitude to the international community for their support and requested the Chinese side to respect international law and Viet Nam's sovereignty.
On Monday, the Viet Nam Youth Union also issued a statement protesting against China's acts.
The youth union requested China to remove its rig, strictly abide by international law, especially the UNCLOS, and not proceed with similar actions in future.
It called on youth organisations at home and abroad to support Viet Nam's agencies and fishermen and safeguard the country's sovereignty and legitimate interests in the East Sea.
President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino, has warned that China's illegal placement of the rig showed that Beijing might seek to repeat the act in other waters in the East Sea, thus worsening instabilities in the region.
In an interview with Britain's Financial Times, Aquino said China was playing a dangerous game that could spiral out of control, hurting diplomatic ties and potentially escalating into clashes.
He added that what happened to Viet Nam might also happen to the Philippines. He urged China to stop unilateral actions that contravened the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) it signed together with ASEAN in 2002.
He said ASEAN members should present a stronger and clearer voice about how to resolve such disputes in line with international law.
Meanwhile, world commentators reiterated that Beijing's unilateral action damaged China's prestige in the international arena.
Hong Kong's South China Morning Post recently ran an article titled Beijing's dangerous arrogance in the South China Sea by veteran commentator Philip Bowring.
Bowring said China's behaviour towards its East Sea neighbours was aggressive and arrogant.
Sharing the same view, columnist Brad Glosserman said in the American publication The National Interest that China's prestige had suffered as it was now seen as the orchestrator of regional instability. - VNS
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
The online news portal of TV5
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA - China’s construction of an airstrip at Mabini Reef could be the first step in Beijing’s plan to establish an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the disputed Spratly Islands and the entire South China Sea.
This was the assessment of a top Aquino administration defense official, who has intimate knowledge of China’s recent activities in the disputed Spratly Islands. Both the Departments of Defense and Foreign Affairs confirmed there have been construction activities in Mabini Reef (internationally known as Johnson South Reef) but which China calls Chigua Reef.
Dr. Peter Paul Galvez, spokesman of the Department of National Defense, confirmed “ongoing reclamation or earthmoving activities” at Mabini Reef and noted the dimensions of the construction area are consistent with that of an airstrip.
“If indeed this is an airstrip, then definitely it will be of great security concern,” the defense official warned. When asked if it could be the start of Beijing’s plan to put up an air defense zone over the South China Sea, the official replied: “Possible.”
In late 2013, Beijing announced it was enforcing an air defense zone over the East China Sea, which covers a group of islands disputed by China and Japan. Last Febraury, the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun warned China was planning an air defense identification zone for the South China Sea as well.
Under the ADIZ, all foreign aircraft are required to report their movements to China.
The United States warned China against considering any South China Sea ADIZ plan. China denied it had such a plan.
The United States warned China against considering any South China Sea ADIZ plan. China denied it had such a plan.
First air strip, but 6 garrisons so far
But if the construction activities at Mabini Reef are confirmed to be an airstrip, this would be the first one built by China on any of the eight reefs and islands it occupies in the Spratlys.
Apart from the Philippines and China, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have their own claims in the Spratlys – which is widely believed to hold vast reserves of oil and gas and is also known as a prime fishing area.
As far back as 2001, China has been aggressively building up its armed garrisons and facilities in six islands and reefs located well inside the Philippine territory of the Spratlys.
China has gradually built up its garrisons at the Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef), Calderon Reef (Cuarteron Reef), Zamora Reef (Subi Reef). Gaven Reef, Mabini Reef (Chigua Reef) and Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef).
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Press to watch and listen:
Saturday, May 17, 2014
China’s placement of a state-owned oil rig in the South China Sea was unexpected, provocative and illegal.
This incident marks the first time China has placed one of its oil rigs in the EEZ of another state without prior permission. This was an unexpected move because China-Vietnam relations have been on an upward trajectory since the visit to Hanoi by Premier Li Keqiang in October. At that time, both sides indicated they had reached agreement to carry forward discussions on maritime issues. China’s move was also unexpected because Vietnam has not undertaken any discernible provocative action that would justify China’s unprecedented actions.
China’s deployment of the rig was provocative because the oil rig was accompanied by as many as 80 ships, including seven People’s Liberation Army Navy warships. When Vietnam dispatched Coast Guard vessels to defend its sovereign jurisdiction, China responded by ordering its ships to use water cannons and to deliberately ram the Vietnamese vessels. These actions were not only highly dangerous, but caused injuries to the Vietnamese crew.
China’s actions are illegal under international law. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying justified China’s actions by claiming the rig’s operations were in Chinese “territorial waters” and had nothing to do with Vietnam. In other words, China has adopted a position similar to Japan with regard to the Senkaku Islands by declaring there is no dispute with Vietnam.
China has placed itself in an inconsistent position. China has been provocative in using paramilitary ships and aircraft to challenge Japan’s assertion of administrative control over the Senkakus. China seeks to get Tokyo to admit that the Senkaku Islands are disputed. Yet Beijing has adopted Japan’s stance with respect to Block 143 by refusing to acknowledge that there is a legal dispute between China and Vietnam.
Chinese spokesperson Hua Chunying only presented a general statement, not a detailed legal argument in support of China’s actions. Her claim that the oil rig is in Chinese “territorial waters” lacks any foundation because there is no Chinese land feature within twelve nautical miles of Block 143 on which to base this assertion. Chinese statements refer to the Paracel Islands – and not Hainan Island – as the basis for its claim.
China’s lack of clarity has led academic specialists and regional analysts to speculate about the possible legal basis of China’s claim. In 1996 China issued baselines around the Paracel Islands, including Triton Island. Specialists argue that China’s claim could be based on the proximity of Triton, and its entitlement to a continental shelf and EEZ.
Other specialists point out that the 1996 baselines do not conform to Article 8 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and cannot be used to advance a legal claim over Block 143.
If the former line of argument is accepted, China’s hypothetical EEZ would overlap with the EEZ promulgated by Vietnam. This would constitute a legal dispute. International law requires the two parties to enter into provisional arrangement, refrain from the use of force or the threat of force, and take no action to upset thestatus quo. Clearly China’s placement of the oil rig and its 80 escorts in Block 143 constitutes a violation of international law.
Analysts are divided on the motivations and objectives of China’s current bout of aggressiveness. Three main interpretations have been put forth.
The first interpretation views the placement of the HD-981 rig in Block 143 as the inevitable response by China to Vietnam’s promulgation of the Law of the Sea in mid-2012. Prior to the adoption of this law by Vietnam’s National Assembly, China unsuccessfully brought intense diplomatic pressure on Hanoi not to proceed. Immediately after the law was adopted, the China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) issued a tender for blocks in the South China Sea that overlapped with blocks issued by Vietnam within its EEZ.
According to this interpretation, the current controversy is the result of a decision by CNOOC to follow through and begin exploring these blocks. In CNOOC’s view, Block 143 fell within Chinese jurisdiction. In China’s view, commercial exploration activities in Block 143 would undercut Vietnam’s claims to sovereign jurisdiction.
The first interpretation is questionable given the sheer size and composition of the fleet of 80 ships and vessels that accompanied the oil rig. This was clearly no ordinary commercial venture but a pre-emptive move to prevent Vietnam from defending its EEZ.
Diplomatic sources in Beijing also report that CNOOC officials revealed they were ordered to place the rig in Block 143 despite their misgivings on commercial grounds. CNOOC officials pointed to the costs of keeping the rig on station until mid-August when oil exploration is scheduled to cease. Other observers point out that the prospects of finding commercial reserves of oil and gas in this area are quite low.
A second interpretation posits that China’s actions were in response to the operations by ExxonMobil in nearby blocks..
This interpretation seems unlikely. ExxonMobil has been operating in Block 119 from 2011. While China protested the award of an oil exploration contract to ExxonMobil, China has not stepped up its objections in recent months. It is also unclear how the placement of a Chinese oil rig in Block 143 would deter ExxonMobil from operating elsewhere.
Finally, China’s actions appear to be disproportional and very likely counterproductive. Block 143 does not directly affect U.S. interests. Chinese interference with ExxonMobil would be a direct challenge to the Obama administration’s statement that U.S. national interests included “unimpeded lawful commerce.”
The third interpretation, first publicized by The Nelson Report (May 6, 2014), argues that China’s actions were pre-planned in response to President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. During his visit, President Obama publicly opposed the settlement of territorial disputes by intimidation and coercion.
China was angered by the Obama administration’s prior criticism of China’s nine-dash line claim to the South China Sea and U.S. support for the Philippines’ decision to request international arbitration to settle its territorial dispute with China. In addition, China was outraged by President Obama’s public declaration of support of Japan and its administration of the Senkaku islands as well as President Obama’s declaration that U.S. alliance commitment to the Philippines were ironclad.
In sum, the third interpretation argues that China chose to directly confront the main premises of the Obama administration’s rebalance to Asia. China chose to expose the gap between Obama’s rhetoric and U.S. capability to respond to China’s assertion of its sovereignty claims.
Some analysts who support the third interpretation argue that China has taken heart from President Obama’s inability to respond effectively to the crises in Syria and the Ukraine. Therefore China manufactured the oil rig crisis to demonstrate to regional states that the United States is a “paper tiger.”
The third interpretation has plausibility. But it begs the question of why Vietnam was the focus for this crisis. Also, China’s actions could prove counter-productive, coming on the eve of a summit meeting in Myanmar of the heads of government of the ten states comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
On March 18, China and ASEAN held the tenth joint working group meeting on the Implementation of the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in Singapore. This was followed up by the seventh ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Meeting on the Implementation of the DOC in Pattaya, Thailand on April 21. While progress has been slow, there were some encouraging signs that confidence building projects under the DOC might be developed. As one ASEAN diplomat put it to the author, “the journey [consultations with China] is more important than the destination [achieving a binding COC].”
China’s deployment of the oil rig and accompanying fleet ensured that the South China Sea would be a hot button issue at the ASEAN Summit. ASEAN Foreign Ministers issued a stand alone statement on May 10 expressing “their serious concerns over the on-gong developments in the South China Sea, which increased tensions in the area.” It is significant that a separate statement was issued on the South China Sea. This statement implicitly expresses support for Vietnam and lays the foundation for a similar statement by ASEAN heads of government/state.
The Foreign Ministers’ statement did not specifically mention China by name but it reiterated ASEAN standard policy on the South China Sea. The statement urged the parties concerned to act in accord with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to exercise self-restraint, avoid actions that could undermine peace and stability, and to resolve disputes by peaceful means without resorting to the threat or use of force.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Statement called on all parties to fully and effectively implement the DOC. The Statement also called for the need for “expeditiously working towards an early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.”
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Statement did not mention China by name in deference to Beijing. But the Statement may be read as a shift in the views by individual members of ASEAN that territorial disputes involving the Paracel Islands and its surrounding waters are a bilateral matter between China and Vietnam.
An endorsement of the Statement by the Foreign Ministers on the South China Sea by the ASEAN Summit will provide political and diplomatic cover for the United States and other maritime nations to express their concern.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has already come out in public in support of Vietnam. The U.S. State Department issued a statement characterizing Chinese actions “provocative.” More importantly, Assistant Secretary of State Danny Russel just visited Vietnam on a scheduled trip. He will be able to take his first-hand assessment back to Washington to shape the Obama Administration’s response.
Beneath the ASEAN diplomatic surface, however, China’s actions are likely to stoke anxieties already held by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. These states will seek to shore up their own maritime capabilities and to seek reassurance of support from the United States and other maritime powers such as Japan, Australia, and India.
Vietnam has reiterated its determination to respond to Chinese tactics of ramming its vessels. The current stand-off between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels in the waters around the CNOOC oil rig therefore holds the potential for an accident, a miscalculation, or the use of deadly force.
It is more likely that China and Vietnam will manage this affair by preventing matters from escalating to the extent that armed force is used. As of May 2, China and Vietnam have held six face-to-face diplomatic meetings in Beijing and three meetings in Hanoi between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chinese Embassy officials.
Vietnam has requested that China receive a high-level special envoy. Diplomatic rumor has it that the special envoy will be a member of the Vietnam Communist Party (VCP) Politburo. Vietnam has resorted to sending special envoys to Beijing on two occasions in recent years and both visits resulted in a lowering of tension.
On May 8, the VCP Central Committee opened a long-planned executive session. This will provide Vietnam’s leaders with an opportunity to review the current crisis and to work out an effective political and diplomatic strategy to deal with China. Consensus on this issue will give the special envoy authority to speak on behalf of the Hanoi leadership.
When China first announced the deployment of its oil rig, it stated that its operations would terminate on August 15. This provides plenty of time for both sides to orchestrate and manage the confrontation in Block 143 and provide a face saving means for ending the confrontation.
Source: The Diplomat
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Chosun Ilbo, a conservative South Korean newspaper,reports that a sign in North Korea’s Kang Kon Military Academy states that China is a “turncoat and our enemy.” The newspaper bases the reports on “sources” without any further identification information. It quotes another source as saying: “”The position of the North Korean regime is to use China, but not trust it.”
The fact that the newspaper has not provided any further identification information about its sources have led some to criticize Chosun Ilbo and doubt the accuracy of the report. However, calling China a “turncoat and our enemy” would hardly be unprecedented for North Korea. Indeed, the phrase is a quote from Kim Il-Sung, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) eternal president, who uttered it shortly after China established diplomatic relations with South Korea in 1992. After that, banners bearing the phrase were hung on the walls of the Kang Kon Military Academy for three years until 1995. The same banners were temporarily re-hung on the walls of the Kang Kon Military Academy after North Korea’s second nuclear test in 2009.
According to the Chosun Ilbo report, “North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered the signs displayed again at the academy after China joined UN Security Council sanctions last year over the North’s long-range missiles and third nuclear test.”
However, Ahn Chan-il, president of the World Institute for North Korea Studies, told NK News, a subscription service reporting on North Korea, that if the new reports are true, “a meeting of two presidents from South Korea and China has likely affected North Korea’s decision to hang the sign again.”
Ahn continued: “China has successfully adopted a market economy while maintaining its communist idea. But Pyongyang knows it will be impossible for North Korea to do same thing…. That’s why North Korea is afraid of China’s influence, and hanging the sign is one of its efforts to resist any kind of influence from China.”
This history does demonstrate that the often-depicted close relationship between North Korea and China is overly simplistic. During the Cold War, Pyongyang repeatedly played the Soviet Union off of China to preserve its foreign policy autonomy. Since the end of the Cold War, North Korea has become increasingly dependent on Beijing for its survival.
Nonetheless, it has often remained defiant against China, including by purging North Korean officials who advocate closer ties with China, such as Kim Jong-Un’s uncle Jang Song-Thaek.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
DW : AP, AFP, Reuters and others
Vietnam claims that its vessels have come under attack multiple times in the China Sea. Tensions have also flared between China and the Philippines over disputes in the oil- and natural gas-rich waters.
Late Wednesday, a Vietnamese official said attacks by Chinese ships over the past few days had damaged several boats and injured at least six people around a $1-billion (720-million-euro) Chinese deep sea rig near the Paracel Islands, seized by China in 1974, but still claimed by both countries. Ngo Ngoc Thu, the vice commander of Vietnam's coast guard, warned that "all restraint had a limit."
"Our maritime police and fishing protection forces have practiced extreme restraint," Thu told a news conference in Hanoi. "We will continue to hold on there. But if they continue to ram into us, we will respond with similar self-defense."
Thu showed video of the ships ramming Vietnamese vessels and firing water cannon. He said the Chinese vessels had done so dozens of times over the past three days but that Vietnam had not carried out any offensive actions of its own close to the rig, about 220 kilometers (120 miles) off the country's coast.
Earlier Wednesday, a Vietnamese ship hit the Chinese oil rig while it tried to establish a fixed position. There were no reports of injuries.
China deployed the rig May 1, along with a flotilla of escort ships, some armed, potentially provocative steps as the country appears to assert #links:16221330:its sovereignty in the sea#. With neither China nor Vietnam showing any sign of stepping down, the standoff raises the possibility of more serious clashes.
'Further provocative actions'
Vietnam is not the only country feuding with China over the sea this week. On Wednesday China demanded the Philippines release 11 fishermen arrested Tuesday for poaching endangered turtles near Half Moon Shoal on the Spratly Islands, in waters claimed by both countries. China has also demanded that the Philippines release the boat.
"We once again warn the Philippines not to take any provocative actions," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, declaring her country's "indisputable sovereignty" over the islands.
According to the Philippines, the Chinese boat contained more than 350 turtles, some of which were already dead. A boat from the Philippines also transporting poached turtles was apprehended as well.
China claims #links:17304086:nearly all of the sea#. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan dispute that, though only the Philippines has filed a legal challenge to China's territorial claims at a UN tribunal.
The sea and its islands have different names depending on which country one is in.
mkg/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)