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  • Sep 22, 2014
  • Updated: 4:28am

Tensions between China and Vietnam escalate in row over boat sinking

Clash involving fishing boats in Paracel Islands leads to official protest from Hanoi, as Beijing says Vietnamese vessel breached security zone

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2014, 9:24am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 11:53am

Tensions between China and Vietnam continued to escalate yesterday as both nations traded accusations over the sinking of a Vietnamese vessel near a controversial oil rig in a disputed area of the South China Sea.

Vietnam's foreign ministry lodged a protest with the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, claiming a Chinese vessel rammed and sank a Vietnamese boat on Monday.

Watch: Chinese and Vietnamese vessels clash in disputed waters

But the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said the Vietnamese boat went into a restricted area near the oil rig in the Paracel Islands and rammed a Chinese vessel. The Vietnamese boat then sank.

The latest spat came after deadly anti-China protests swept across Vietnam, triggered by China's establishment of the oil rig earlier this month.

The heated exchanges indicated that the tensions would continue, though military conflict was unlikely, observers said.

"With nationalist sentiment running high, especially in Vietnam, it is expected that Hanoi will continue with actions that dismay Beijing," said Xu Liping , an expert on Southeast Asia with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

With nationalist sentiment running high, especially in Vietnam, it is expected that Hanoi will continue with actions that dismay Beijing

Hanoi said the Vietnamese fishing boat with 10 people on board was rammed on Monday by one of 40 Chinese fishing boats that surrounded it. The crew members were rescued by nearby Vietnamese vessels. The incident occurred 17 nautical miles south of the oil rig.

But Beijing hit back, saying the fishing vessel breached the security zone around the oil rig.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said: "The direct reason for the incident is that Vietnam has from time to time ignored China's representations, warnings and advice, continuing to disturb the normal operations of Chinese vessels and making dangerous moves on the sea."

The rig's operator, China Oilfield Services, said exploration at the rig would continue.

Tensions between China and its neighbours, particularly the Philippines, have increased in the South China Sea.

But ties between Beijing and Hanoi had been comparatively stable since October, when the two countries agreed to set up a working group to explore the disputed waters.

Li Mingjiang, an associate professor at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said the latest incident could help Hanoi gain international support as Beijing had refused to move the oil rig away.

"China will inevitably need to respond," he said. "And this will help Vietnam gain credit for its public relations in the international arena."

Kang Lin , a researcher at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said the incident could see the Southeast Asian nations becoming more united against China.

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He noted that Hanoi said it was closely following an arbitration case brought by the Philippines in a separate maritime dispute with Beijing.

"China should have prepared for this trend," he said.

But Wu Shicun, the national institute president, said the latest spat would probably be settled through talks. "China does not want the tensions to escalate and it uses only civilian ships around the oil rig," he said.


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26 May 2014 - 11:02am

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Of course China does not want US to interfere because it does not want to resolve its abuses using fairness and international laws that were recognized by all other countries including China. It knows that it's in the wrong, therefore it will lose the legal battle. Of course China wants to negotiate bilaterally where everybody knows that China will use its mass to overpower the smaller countries and force them to abide by China's rules. The US criticized China's action of putting its oil rig in disputed waters as provocative and unhelpful to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region, and for its disregard for international laws, which is the wide-spread condemnation not just from the US but from many other countries in the world. But China still maintain its thick skin and aggressive behavior, because it always has the intention of invading other countries' territories. So when other countries feel threatened by China, naturally they will get together and also seek support from another super power, who may not be perfect, but at least not evil like China. At least the US cares about their allies and human rights, not like China, who only cares about themselves, is willing to betray and trash their allies, and is not stopping at any evil act to achieve their goals. China has been stealing, copying, deceiving the world, now invading other countries. What is there for Chinese people to feel proud about their country, when it has such bad reputations around the world?
By siding with Vietnam in the islands dispute, the US is pouring oil on fire. Although the US is not saying it supports Vietnam's historic claim, by accusing one side of provocation and not the other side, this will certainly "escalate" tension and deepen the geopolitical conflict between China and Vietnam. The US pivot to Asia is itself very destabilizing because many smaller countries will be seeking or relying on US military to contest with China over some of the long dormant territorial disputes. The US is already being hypercritical in the cyber hacking dispute with China, as if the US can enjoy the same moral high ground. The question is does the US has the same moral high ground to interfere in the SCS disputes? The US cannot even be a mediator due to its alliance with the Philippines, and quasi alliance with Vietname against China.
The whole dispute in the SCS can only be understood in the context of a geopolitical rivalry between China and the US. China cannot expect the disputes be solved by going to the international tribunal for the law of the sea when the US is not even recognizing this law. China can only fall back on its own strength, military and economic, to defend what it is claiming. International law did not solve the Crimea annexation. International law did not solve the invasion of Iraq.
Geopolitical forces are much more powerful than Legal forces in the real world.
How would China feels if ONE DAY A COUNTRY WILL CLAIM THAT CHINA BELONGS TO THEIR ANCESTORS AND TOLD CHINESE PEOPLE TO GET OUT, and they can manufacture all kinds of evidences (but not like the world will believe them). China has been the aggressive invaders for many years in history. Everybody knows that. They were ruthless too. Now they think they have a little power, their true color shows once again. Everything they do is to serve them at the expense of others. What good did they do for the world, except polluting it, manufacturing deadly products, stealing intellectual properties from around the world, and now trying to grab land and water that belongs to others? Nobody wants to be friends with China, because ALL THEY WANT IS TO TAKE FROM YOU, and SWALLOW YOU IF THEY COULD.
many years in history? I doubt if you ever study Chinese history. Your 3rd essay here is living proof.
may be you have been in the north pole for too long polarbear.. go read up some Chinese history books before wasting your 'valuable' time :)
Pretty clear the US are composed of Europeans and Africans on someone elses land. And the European descendants in Australia ought to go back to where they came from. AND WILL SOME STUPID **** STOP POSTING MULTIPLE **** POSTS?
But that won't happen, because without China there'd be no truly free Asia.
Wow...I heard about that very often "without China" there'd be no pollutions, stealing, invading, bullying & diseased everywhere.
>the then prime minister of Vietnam wrote a letter to Zhou En Lai expressing the agreement to the declaration.
THIS LETTER FROM THE VIETNAMESE PRIME MINISTER DID NOT MENTION ANYTHING ABOUT THE ISLANDS IN QUESTION. Once again, IT'S CHINA WRONGFULLY TRANSLATION AND MISREPRESENTATION ON PURPOSE FOR THEIR OWN ADVANTAGES. Did you read the declaration or the letter in full before saying this, or you just prefer to use China 's interpretation for your own cause? Did it ever mention the 2 islands (Spratly and Paracel, or Hoang Sa and Truong Sa)? Again, if China strongly believes they have solid evidences, why refusing to go to international court?
>>Vietnamese had acknowledged Chinese sovereignty over Paracel and Spratly Islands in 1956, 1958 and 1965. That's history cannot be denied.




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