News / Asia

Vietnam Faces Limited Options in China Sea Dispute

FILE - Image released by Vietnam Coast Guard, a Chinese coast guard vessel, right, fires water cannon at a Vietnamese vessel off the coast of Vietnam.
FILE - Image released by Vietnam Coast Guard, a Chinese coast guard vessel, right, fires water cannon at a Vietnamese vessel off the coast of Vietnam.
Marianne Brown
Vietnam has curbed the violent anti-China protests that swept the country after a Chinese oil rig began drilling in contested waters. But authorities have not dropped their opposition to the Chinese operation, sending boats to harass the drilling, considering waging a legal case in international courts to resolve the dispute, and courting regional allies like the Philippines.

China tightened the screws on Vietnam this week by sending a “position paper” to the United Nations on the operations of its $1 billion-oil rig in a part of the South China Sea that Vietnam also claims.
 
It accused Vietnam of ramming its vessels, sending frogmen and “other underwater agents” in waters which it says are indisputably Chinese.

 
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China has always resisted third party intervention in disputes between rival claimants over territory in the South China Sea, but this shift could put Vietnam in a difficult position, says Professor Carl Thayer from the Australian Defense Force Academy.
 
“Is China trying to provoke a debate in the general assembly, making countries make a decision to put up or shut up? Trying to isolate Vietnam by having those countries which are most concerned about China to shut up because they wouldn’t want to be seen as forced out into the open like Brunei, they just abstain and duck for cover," Thayer suggested.
 
Vietnam cannot compete with China’s military muscle and remains heavily reliant on Beijing for trade. Vietnam is believed to be considering waging a legal case for the disputed territory, but taking its claims to an international court could take years.
 
According to Thayer, one option could be to take advantage of the Philippines’ challenge of the legality of China's maritime claims at an international tribunal in The Hague.
 
“The best approach politically, if relations between China are irreparable, would be to join the Philippines and try to bolster its claim as a friend of the Philippines," Thayer said.
 
Vietnam’s coalition with the Philippines took a lighter tone on Monday when the country played football, volleyball and tug of war with sailors on an island in the Spratly archipelago.
 
In the past the two governments would have been wary about organizing such an event, lest they appear to be “ganging up” on China, says Alexander Vuving, a security analyst at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii.
 
However, things have now come to a point where both countries can step up and show their solidarity.
 
Vietnam can look also look outside the region for support, he said.
 
“India is far away but has also indicated its support for Vietnam so looking at the core interest for both nations I think that the casual allies, if you want to use the term, would be the Philippines, Japan and the U.S. and India," Vuving said.
 
He added that Vietnam has been moving closer to the U.S. even before the oil rig crisis in a “continuing rapprochement to the rise of China”.
 
But Vietnam’s politburo are divided on how close they get to Washington. Some do not want political reform and others have vested interests in economic ties with China.
 
“I think fundamentally modernizers want to get closer to the U.S., not just for defense of the territory but also for economic reform," Vuving explained. " But they are not very well represented in the politburo right now.”
 
Meanwhile, at home Vietnam is preparing for the long haul. On Monday the National Assembly passed a plan to spend $760 million to support fishermen and coast guards.
 
The money will be used to buy equipment for patrols and build offshore fishing vessels for the Vietnam Coast Guard, the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Force and fishermen.
 
This includes construction of 3,000 steel-clad fishing boats, Tran Cao Muu, General Secretary of the Vietnam Fisheries Association said. The current fleet of around 100,000 boats are made of wood.
 
He said policies to exploit resources in Vietnamese waters are not new, but the issue has become “hotter” following China’s aggressive actions in the sea.
 
Vietnam has accused China of ramming its ships over 1,400 times, once causing a fishing boat to sink.
 
Despite the increased dangers, Muu said Vietnam's fishing ships were operating as normal in the sea.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
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by: steven quinlan from: USA
June 16, 2014 12:20 AM
There will come a time when even the United State will have to bow down to china if we do nothing now, china is the America on steroids. Anything that we have vested in research and developed, which cost us billions, the chinese hack and steal from us. Even our new future weapons to protect our country through this century are already at risk to china, notice I do not capitalize china? To show my dis-like and lack of trust towards china for their lack of concern. They steal anything and make knock off products from Us America. Think what you will but the tide is turning and we better watch our asses when it comes to china.
In Response

by: Trung from: VN
June 16, 2014 10:19 AM
Hacking, stealing, copying and cloning are some of cHinA 's most important innovations. (notice the way I write cHinA)

by: LiveFree from: USA
June 12, 2014 10:03 PM
Time for a break. Vietnam and Phil should co-host a Peace & Friendship soccer tournament event on Spratly inviting all ASEAN countries, Australia, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea to the event.

Enjoy the games, beers and sea foods, while China navy circling around taking care of security.
In Response

by: LiveFree from: USA
June 13, 2014 5:22 PM
Sorry, I forgot Guam from the list. US will be invited as well. Any countries that have interests in freedom of navigation in SCS are welcome to come sharing the fun and show solidarity against aggression.
In Response

by: one jarhead from: guam
June 13, 2014 8:16 AM
Can we join u?

by: ddd from: US
June 12, 2014 5:50 PM
Please, don't get US involved in this. What kind of stay-employed article is this? Viet and Phil are on bottom of US' to-do list. Don't try to take advantage of US again, we have enough name on Vietnam Memorial.
In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
June 13, 2014 10:26 AM
I don't know if you're Chinese national posing as American.
If not, its traitor Americans like you that caused decline of US and jobs lost to China. Do you think the communist China will stop at Asia with controlling 90% of East Sea?



by: YinHong from: China
June 12, 2014 1:43 AM
No one can stop us. One day, The US will become slaves for us.
Vietnam will not be on the map, because it'll belong to China.
In Response

by: Kim Dung from: Viet Nam
June 17, 2014 12:39 AM
I love China, China is beautiful but China government is not so good.
In Response

by: Hoang from: VN
June 15, 2014 1:51 AM
YinHong,
China is beautiful, land, people and culture are the most wonderful ones in the world.
In Response

by: Adam9 from: Dong Nai, VN
June 15, 2014 12:02 AM
YinHong, you should not be thinking of enslaving others.
In Response

by: Hoang from: VN
June 14, 2014 11:58 PM
A democratic China shall be a peaceful and powerful China.
In Response

by: Hoang from: VN
June 14, 2014 11:42 PM
No one can stop Communist China, only the Chinese people can stop China.
China now has a middle class, and the size of this middle class is increasing rapidly. Material things are no longer the most essential things in life for them; they need more and they will demand to have more: human rights, democracy, freedom of this and freedom of that, ...
Gradually and naturally, the political landscape of China will change; no organization, no political party can resist the power of people, people's will is god's will, ... people rule.
In Response

by: Van Hoang from: Sai gon
June 14, 2014 7:41 AM
Yeah, I agree that no one can't stop china but they can make china break apart in the future. You, chinese mainland, have a backward culture and your country is still left behind the common value of the modern world. so sad to say that
In Response

by: Phamluyen from: Vietnam
June 13, 2014 5:29 AM
Cheeky china, all countries loving peace in the world don't want to be friends with you, your behaviors are disgrace
In Response

by: Tom Murphy from: West Virginia
June 12, 2014 2:55 PM
If Australia, Canada and USA decided to cut off food exports to China, the entire country would starve. If Europe did the same, China's population would fall dramatically. That's with no military action. If China's sea trade was brought to a halt, using minimal effort, China's economy would go back to the 1920s.
In Response

by: Junky from: US
June 12, 2014 8:00 AM
When we pull the productions back to the US or move to Indonesia. The dirty rats like you will go back and eat root to survive.

by: Young thing from: nowhere
June 12, 2014 12:08 AM
Vietnam! Time to get out of China’s shade. Time to take responsibility for your country. Don’t let your ancestors' bone and blood bleed for nothing. You’ve got world’s support. You’ve got helps from many countries. Why do you have to hang on your decisions? Let send China to International Court of Justice. Don’t let China build its military base on Johnson reef. It will be the end of western pacific ocean, once China finishes building it

by: Phương Anh from: Bắc Giang, Việt Nam
June 11, 2014 11:30 PM
I am Vietnamese, I just want to live in peace, let help my country, because we are poor so vulnerable to bullying, we want to rise up as a real powerhouse, China is not invading make them own
In Response

by: Mike from: US
June 18, 2014 7:37 PM
@Trong. Everyone in every country has to stand on his/her feet in order to survive in this world. That is the reality. However, do not cry to assold k for other help because your party already sold VN to China several year ago. Look at your current situation country now, everything depended on China, from economic to political. Your party leaders sold VN to China long time ago. Now, the only Vietnamese people can help to take back the country by tackle the dictators in VN. Do that before other country can help. Good luck
In Response

by: Dung
June 14, 2014 10:52 AM
Country people are poor.
Party people make good money.
In Response

by: Trong from: Thai nguyen, Viet Nam
June 13, 2014 11:11 PM
Phuong Anh, Vietnamese need to step on our feet. Don't believe that other countries will help and look at their help. They only want to let Viet Nam down and gain their control over our country and they want to get our Party to go!

by: PANHA from: IMPERIAL COUNTY
June 11, 2014 10:56 PM
The Vietnam taking Laos haft country of Cambodia now taking control whole Cambodia ,has Vietnam ever cry fool to the world ,US,Europe ,Japan? That is a big joke ,if you dare believe in Vietnam you will deserved to be cheated as usual ASK CHINA, RUSSIA ,FRENCH? The viets still curse them out every day, any thing else you need to hear?

by: Walter O. Lituan from: Iligan City
June 11, 2014 10:56 PM
China should not be allowed to trade with the Asian countries. China is a bully ang a Hawk. CHina is all systems go. No one can defeat China now. This is the price of bringing all our industry in China. Boycott all China product and send them back to the desert.

by: Thomas Gray from: USA
June 11, 2014 10:18 PM
Vietnam, if you sell your soul to the devil, eventually the devil must be paid.

by: Adam9 from: Dong Nai, VN
June 11, 2014 8:44 PM
Great, I have read many good comments here today.
Comments page of 2
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