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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth 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.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs