News / Asia

Analysts: China Planted Oil Rig to Test Vietnamese Resolve

Officers of the Vietnamese Marine Guard monitor a Chinese coast guard vessel (top) on the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) offshore of Vietnam, May 15, 2014.
Officers of the Vietnamese Marine Guard monitor a Chinese coast guard vessel (top) on the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) offshore of Vietnam, May 15, 2014.
Sarah Williams
China’s decision to place an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam has raised the stakes in the showdown over the South China Sea.  As the week came to an end, violence and lack of diplomatic talk indicate indicate tensions between China and Vietnam are not getting better. 

China claims almost the entire maritime region, despite various competing claims from the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei, in addition to Hanoi.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung says by placing the oil rig near the Paracel Islands China has “seriously threatened peace and stability.”

Beijing says Vietnam’s claim to the region is “ridiculous,” with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang calling the islands the “indisputable territory of the Chinese people.”

Vietnamese outrage over the Chinese oil rig triggered anti-China protests that killed at least two people earlier this month.

In addition, a Vietnamese fishing boat sank this week after it was allegedly rammed by Chinese vessels.  Vietnam says four other ships were surrounded and rammed by Chinese vessels two days later.

Two experts spoke to VOA about the Chinese decision to place the oil rig in contested waters at this time, knowing it would provoke outrage from Vietnam.

“I think it’s part of a long-term pattern of testing the responses of states around the region, ranging along the spectrum of much weaker states like the Philippines up to Japan and the United States,” said Michael Auslin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

“There are moments of opportunity and this seemed to be one where they could get away with really trying to stake their claim in waters that by almost any definition are Vietnam’s,” Auslin said.

John Tkacik, the director of the Future Asia Project at the International Strategy and Assessment Center in Alexandria, Virginia, agrees with the perception that this was a calculated move by Beijing.

“I think this has been in the works for a long time,” Tkacik said.  “One just doesn’t just get a $1.2 billion oil rig and plunk it in the South China Sea as a way of sending a signal on the spur of the moment.”

The dispute is complicated by China’s preference to deal with the countries involved individually, instead of through an organization like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.  That has made the other members of ASEAN concerned about China’s growing might. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping says China works to resolve peacefully issues of maritime sovereignty, and questions Asian countries that seek alliances against neighbors.

“If you look ahead, clearly the ground is shifting against China, I would argue, in terms of perceptions and the degree to which other Southeast Asian nations are willing to let it expand without type of hedges around it,” said Auslin. 

Vietnamese officials indicate they might take legal action against China concerning the oil rig and attacks against Vietnamese ships.  The U.S. might help the Southeast Asian nations in this regard, according to John Tkacik.

“International law, on the Law of the Sea, to be specific, is on the side of the non-China claimants here,” he said.  “The United States is in a position to play a leadership role in forcing this issue into an international arbitration.”

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: jobert from: japan
May 31, 2014 7:30 AM
We will not stir up trouble in the S China Sea as long as everyone agrees the whole south china sea is ours.....later the pacific ocean the indian ocean the rest of the ocean and the moon...

by: Peter v from: Australia
May 31, 2014 4:28 AM
I think China is a big bully

by: Bhalanee from: usa
May 31, 2014 4:20 AM
Report Reply Vietnam ruled by VC has little or no credibility. The oil rig is well inside China's territorial water , 150 miles off Vietnam coast but only 17 miles south of its big islands with hundreds of chinese living there for centuries. Besides, in 1974, China defeated South Vietnam navy which tried to conquer it when China's navy was only 1/3 of SV's US destroyers; US did not intervene at China's request. Both VC and S V both recognized this region as China's ancient territory for many decades. Only 20 years ago, VC changed its former position and spreaded propaganda to its people claiming that the territory is Vietnam's. .
But in international diplomacy, the diplomacy is continuity must be maintained. It cannot be simply changed.
Sending many ships disgusted as fishermen to ram China's ships and ended in capsiding itself is not a decent right-minded nation would do. But, instead of admitting its mistake, it lied that China sank its boat. Voice of America even published 4 boats sunk by China. So VoA is nothing but a bigger liar.
Last week's riot has already cost Vietnam $2 billion which it promised to compensate to the investors. The more actions it take the more his ugly face is shown because the lies by Reuters and Bloomberg and AP could not come up with any photo to prove it. But, video from China's news media did show Vietnam boat speeding toward China's ship and rim its side.
These VC boats are already lucky that China did not arrest for such barbaric action. Yet, the shameless VC has a cheek to accuse China of sinking it. Where is the proof?

by: Harry from: N. A.
May 31, 2014 3:17 AM
The confrontation between China and the South East Asian Self-Defense Alliance lead by Japan seems to be inevitable. China is hell-bent to control the East Vietnam Sea (aka South China Sea) due to the following geopolitic reasons:

1/ Control and dominate the trading routes and oil supply between Japan/S. Korea/Taiwan/SE Asian countries to the Indian Ocean and the Middle East. Once it secures a stranglehold to this vital routes, all countries mentioned above would be at its mercy.

2/ This is the only route to secure its own oil supply from its investment in Africa and the Middle East. This is extremely vital to its economy and to achieve its role as a superpower.

Given the importance of this geopolitic objective, I don't see how China would back out from this future confrontation. And once it secures the S. China Sea, Indonesia and Malaysia will be next, just by virtue of their geographic location (just look at the map). It will be inevitable, unfortunately.

Seems to me war is just a matter of time now....

by: Chi Le from: USA
May 31, 2014 1:59 AM
When Russia annexed Crimea, China casts a blank vote. Now Russia will do this when China is invading Vietnam’s waters. They are changing the status of the world by forces. However, water is different from land. I don’t believe China has enough ability to maintain the water region. Russia is pushing Ukraine to the E.U., and China is pushing Vietnam to the democratic process.

by: Tang Sochetvitou from: Cambodia
May 30, 2014 10:40 PM
21st Century is the Asian Century is right, now most of Asian countries are getting most of the basic ingrediences they need, The Experience, The Money & The status. Now the world will wait and see how/ what they will cook. My suggestion is that the world, esp. those mature countries in EU & the US, have to watch out and should seriously involve in the process because these Asian countries might cook something not pleasant for the world to eat like the EU did two times in the 20th century.
Comments page of 2
 Previous    

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More