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The geo–politics of Vietnam–US rapprochement

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The General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, is currently on an official visit to the United States. Later this year, President Obama is also expected to pay a return visit to Hanoi. The visits are among a series of notable events that mark the 20th anniversary of bilateral normalisation this year.

The development of bilateral ties between the two Cold War enemies over the past 20 years is impressive. The United States is currently Vietnam’s largest export market. In 2014, Vietnam’s US exports amounted to US$28.66 billion, accounting for almost one fifth of the country’s total exports. By 2014, the United States had also become the seventh largest foreign investor in Vietnam, with the stock of registered capital reaching more than US$10 billion. [READ MORE].

Power play in the South China Sea

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The world is watching. It's the next step in the geopolitical calculus of power that includes the world's hot spots from Crimea, Syria and the South China Sea.

It’s been called many things: “death by a thousand cuts,” when each slice by the knife seems inconsequential until you get so many, you die; “salami slicing,” when you take it away slice by slice until it’s all gone; or “the cabbage strategy,” when an area is slowly surrounded by “leaves” like a fishing boat then a coast guard vessel – until it’s wrapped in layers like a cabbage. [READ MORE].

[Video] China has been changing the status quo of large-scale in the Spratlys

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SCSC - Recently, China has been conducting a large-scale land reclamation at 7 shoals and reefs in the Spratlys which they illegally took over from Vietnam. Notably, on Fiery Cross Reef, the reclamation area is five times larger than Itu Aba, formerly the largest island of the Spratlys.

International public opinion shows that the activities of China have violated international law, threatened peace and stability in the region, caused environmental pollution and destroyed marine ecosystems. SCSC is pleased to introduce a video clip reflecting this new situation.

Arbitration between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China

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Recently, the Permanent Court of Arbitration placed in The Hague, The Netherlands has issued its third Procedural Order for the case between the Republic of the Philippines against the People’s Republic of China. Down here the Southchinasea.com has edited and brought out the full text of the third Procedural Order.

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Another Look At The Military Base China Is Building On A Disputed Reef

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SCSC - A tropical coral reef has been transformed by the Chinese military into a base that could host a 3,000 - meter long airstrip and naval port, ready to push Beijing's territorial claim over the South China Sea.

Fiery Cross Reef, where China has constructed its new artificial island, lies in the Spratly Islands, a chain of 750 atolls and reefs. [READ MORE]

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Nytimes:China Said to Turn Reef Into Airstrip in Disputed Water

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SCSC - BEIJING — A major reclamation project by the Chinese government on a tiny reef 500 miles from the mainland would enable China to land military aircraft there, expanding its reach into the contested South China Sea, analysts have said.

The analysts’ report came as a group affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army hosted an international conference in Beijing on Friday and Saturday intended to showcase President Xi Jinping’s call for a new regional security architecture based on the concept of Asia for Asians, an idea that minimizes the role of the United States.[READ MORE]

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The Militarization of China’s Coast Guard

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 SCSC - Plans for China’s still nascent coast guard suggest troubled times ahead in disputed waters.

With new “China Coast Guard” ships entering service at regular intervals, it is easy to forget that the China Coast Guard as an organization does not yet exist in any complete sense. Legislation passed in March 2013 to integrate the ranks (duiwu) of four maritime law enforcement agencies into a new China Coast Guard within a re - constituted State Oceanic Administration (SOA) was a pledge of commitment rather than a plan of action. [READ MORE]

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China Building Offshore Military Base in South China Sea

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SCSC - Satellite images reportedly reveal construction of artificial island large enough to accommodate an airstrip

China is reportedly building an island on a reef in the disputed Spratly Islands which is large enough to accommodate what could be its first offshore airstrip. [READ MORE]

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Maritime Disputes in the South China Sea: Five Minutes with Bill Hayton

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 SCSC - GJIA: Why is the threat of direct military confrontation in the South China Sea, a region with a long history of territorial disputes, higher now than ever before?

BH: Its important to understand that there are two kinds of dispute in the South China Sea. The first is the territorial dispute between the countries surrounding the sea, and the second is the larger set of disputes regarding the role of international law. [READ MORE]

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Indonesia as a Maritime Power: Jokowi's Vision, Strategies, and Obstacles Ahead

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 SCSC - Earlier this year, electoral debate in Indonesia powered up a national discourse about the country’s intent, capabilities, and roadmap as a maritime power in the Indo - Pacific region. Indonesia’s newly installed president, Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, promised in his election manifesto in May 2014 to (1) focus on strengthening Indonesia’s maritime security, (2) expand the canvas of regional diplomacy to cover the entire region of the Indo - Pacific, and (3) project the Indonesian navy as a respected regional maritime power in East Asia.

[1] He further announced in June 2014 that he aimed to transform Indonesia into a “global maritime axis” (poros maritim dunia). [READ MORE]

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Hard diplomacy ahead despite China showing its softer side

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SCSC - (Reuters) - From a military rules - of - the - road agreement with Washington to$ 20 billion in loans for Southeast Asia, Beijing has set aside the tensions of recent years to present a softer side to the world in the last week.

But proof of whether President Xi Jinping is serious about narrowing differences that have marked his first two years in office will depend on how China's festering disputes are managed in the months ahead. [READ MORE]

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