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New wave of criticism against China’s behavior in South China Sea becomes Vietnam’s legal advantages

New waveSince China’s deployment Haiyang 08 ship and many escorts to conduct illegal surveys in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam as well as intimidate and hinder the oil and gas cooperation activities of Vietnam for a long time, there have been many suggestions that Vietnam should sue China like the Philippines did in 2013. This article would like to mention another aspect related to the legal struggle: the strong reaction of international community criticizing Chinese behavior will create a great advantage for Vietnam when using legal measures to protect its legal rights and interests in South China Sea.

China’s missile testing threatens peace in the South China Sea

 

China tests missile China conducted large-scale military drills in the South China Sea from June 29 to July 3, 2019. The area for the exercises was located between Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands. What raising both the world’s and the region’s concerns was China’s first-time anti-submarine missile fire testing, during this exercise, from man-made features that China has illegally built in the South China Sea in recent years. Currently, China has about 27 military outposts scattered in the South China Sea.

Who “passed the buck”?

South China Sea 2016 01 30 18 07 07To justify the illegal activities of the Haiyang Dizhi 08 vessel group deep in Vietnam's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, China affirmed that the operation of the Haiyang Dizhi 08 vessel group was completely legal, since:

1. Vanguard Bank is an integral part of "Nansha Islands" under China's "historical sovereignty";

Investigating the legal status of the Vanguard Bank

tải xuốngOver the past two months since early July 2019, China has deployed the geological survey vessel Haiyang Dizhi 08 accompanied by several Coastal Guard and militia vessels in the waters near Vanguard Bank. Many researchers, analysts and lawyers have publicly criticized China's behavior. In this article, we will analyze the legal status of the Vanguard Bank to demonstrate China’s unruly behavior.

Chinese military base in Cambodia - Threat to regional peace and stability

Cambodia-China-Navy-Twitter-900x540On July 21, 2019, the US Wall Street Journal reported that Cambodia had signed a tacit consent with China to allow Beijing to use a naval base on Cambodian territory.

The reports that China’s construction of a military base started catching headlines in the second half of 2018. At that time, US Vice President Mike Pence sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen, expressing concern that Phnom Penh is planning to continue receiving Chinese weapons in Ream Naval Base near Dara Sakor. In a response letter, Prime Minister Hun Sen has affirmed that Cambodia reject all foreign military presence, as well as "any rivalry that could push Cambodia into a proxy war once more time".

What does the US-ASEAN exercise in the South China Sea mean?

tải xuống 2Within the framework of the “ASEAN and US Defense Ministers’ Agreement 2018” , the US and 10 ASEAN member countries conducted the first joint maritime exercise with eight warships, four aircrafts and more than a thousand personnel on September 2-7 2019. The exercise was conducted amid ongoing Chinese coercive acts against its neighbors in the South China Sea, especially at the Vanguard Bank in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone, continental shelf, threatening Vietnam's long-term oil and gas cooperation activities. On the other hand, China seeks to “shut” other countries down, demanding to settle internally and not to internationalize the problem.

ASEAN's benefits and responsibilities in the settlement of South China Sea sovereignty disputes

tải xuốngThe sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea between China and ASEAN countries and among some ASEAN countries themselves have taken place for decades and become increasingly complicated recently, raising the risk of military confrontations, undermining security, peace, stability and development of the region as well as the lives of the people, first and foremost, those in ASEAN and then, those in Asia - Pacific. This forced ASEAN to make efforts in taking proactive and preventive actions. However, it looks that a few members of this organization are not fully aware of their interests and responsibilities to participate in resolving sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea and thus, the activeness is not fully promoted. There were even countries pursuing their selfish national interests who “delayed” or “created troubles” for the dispute settlement, especially disputes between China and the ASEAN process due to their shortsightedness.

ASEAN and the 27 years of sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea

South China Sea 2016 01 30 18 07 07According to scholars, the sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea have been around since the end of World War II, when the winners and losers sat down together to divide territories and war compensations. Over the time, the disputes escalated during the Cold War and even reached to the point of local armed conflicts in the South China Sea. However, apart from the victim, i.e. the Republic of Vietnam, “whining” for being “bullied”, almost nobody paid attention; even the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the regional organization established in 1967, whose four out of five members except Thailand laid claims to the South China Sea(the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore) , chose “not to say a word.” The main reason was that the region of Southeast Asia at that time was a battlefront between the communist and non-communist forces; for those 5 countries, the top priority was to join the US to deter the “red wave.” Therefore, neither the US nor ASEAN reacted to China’s use of force to occupy the Paracel Islands in 1974 and part of Vietnam's Spratly Islands in 1988. Nonetheless, these Chinese actions also startled the ASEAN-5, especially the Philippines, which sent troops to some features of the archipelago since 1971.

Is Russia on Vietnam’s side in the incident at Vanguard Bank?

vietnam-south-china-sea-vanguard-bank-map-wikimedia-commons-e1565076209217Researchers have questioned whether Russia sides with Vietnam in the Chinese incursions at Vanguard Bank. The question arises as the Putin administration has not publicly spoken about the incident though China's acts in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf take place since the beginning of July 2019 threatening the safety of oil and gas cooperation project between Vietnam and Russian Rosneft Company in Block 06-1 in Vietnam’s continental shelf.

China sullies its image and pushes the South China Sea countries toward the US

082986f0-7c68-11e9-8126-9d0e63452fe9 image hires 180704As the most populated country, the second largest economy in the world and one of the P5, China should act responsibly in accordance with its status of a big power. However, by encroaching in the South China Sea, violating Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf, ignoring international laws and disregarding public criticism, the leaders in Beijing are smearing themselves in front of the international community.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982 is regarded as a Constitution for the world’s seas and oceans. China signed and ratified the Convention but has not complied with its obligations. On July 12, 2016, in the Philippines vs. China case, the Arbitral Tribunal Court rejected Beijing’s unreasonable claims over the South China Sea. However, China has completely disregarded the ruling. Thus, the government in Beijing paid no attention to either international law or justice but its ambition to fortify China’s strength, power, and dominance.

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