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EAST SEA (BIEN DONG) DISPUTE - FROM GEOPOLITICAL VIEWS

Whoever rules the World Island commands the World”

Halford J. Mackinder

Tran khanh*

 

Preamble

The dispute over sovereignty in the East Sea, first of all over the Hoang Sa (Pracel or Paracels) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, had begun right after World War II. However, it has escalated to a pretty serious level since the end of the first decade of the 21st century as several concerned countries had taken tough actions to claim sovereignty in the area.

PARTIES’ CLAIMS AND LEGAL FOUNDATIONS ON SOVEREIGNTY IN THE EAST SEA (BIEN DONG)

At present, major issues in the East Sea dispute are territorial sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes and overlapping claims of sovereign rights over territorial waters. Besides, recent emerging elements are clashes over the rights of coastal states and other nations that use the sea, mainly between the US and China, regarding military vessels’ activities in exclusive economic zones.

VIETNAM CONTINUOUSLY EXERCISES ITS SOVEREIGNTY OVER HOANG SA, TRUONG SA ARCHIPELAGOS

The Hoang Sa (Paracel) and the Truong Sa (Spratly) are the two archipelagoes to the East of the Vietnamese coast in the East Sea(1). The closest point of the Hoang Sa is about 170 nautical miles from the central city of Da Nang and about 120 nautical miles from the Re island, a near-shore island of Vietnam. While, the Truong Sa is about 250 nautical miles from the Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang city, Khanh Hoa province, at its closest point.

HOANG SA TEAM

HOANG SA TEAM: VIETNAM’S UNIQUE SOVEREIGNTY EXERCISE IN ARCHIPELAGIC AREAS IN EAST SEA (BIEN DONG) IN 17TH, 18TH AND EARLY 19TH CENTURIES

Fully aware of the special importance of the seas and the islands in national construction and defense, the Vietnamese feudal states had worked out sea and island strategies and policies to exploit groups of islands in the East Sea (South China Sea). To translate the policies into practice, the states organized separate units to undertake the inspection, control, defense and exploitation of the East Sea, an outstanding example of which was the Hoang Sa Team.

Chinese aggressive moves in the disputed South China Sea

In the second half of June 2012, the Chinese cabinet had approved the establishment of prefectural level city of Sansha to administer the Paracel (Xisha) and Spratly (Nansha)island groups- both of these and their surrounding waters are under dispute in South China Sea. In addition, the People's Liberation Army's spokesperson Geng  Yansheng at a press conference disclosed the Chinese plan to set up a military command in the Sansha islands.

Chinese game-plan for the bordering areas

A worrisome development is that China intends to intensify its propaganda for claiming the disputed bordering areas both on land and at sea. Recently it has been learnt that China has established a Steering Sub-Committee for guiding, coordinating and supervising, educating, propagating awareness of national map and controlling entire national map market with coordination of 13 Ministries which include National Agency for Geographic Information and Map Production, Committee for Propaganda and Instruction of the Communist Party of China, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Public Security etc.

The Law of the Sea of Viet Nam

Pursuant to the 1992 Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam amended in accordance with Resolution 51/2001/QH10;

The National Assembly promulgates the Law of the Sea of Viet Nam.

U.S. Senate Unanimously Passes Resolution Calling for “Self-restraint” in South China Sea Disputes

 Senator Webb amended resolution to raise concerns over China’s recent unilateral actions to assert control of territory

Washington, DC—The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution (S. Res. 524) last night declaring that China’s recent actions to unilaterally assert control of disputed territories in the South China Sea “are contrary to agreed upon principles with regard to resolving disputes and impede a peaceful resolution.” Senator Jim Webb, chair of the Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee, was an original cosponsor of the resolution and led an amendment addressing China's provocative actions. Last week, he urged the U.S. State Department to clarify whether China’s actions were a violation of international law.

Press Statement: South China Sea

 As a Pacific nation and resident power, the United States has a national interest in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, freedom of navigation, and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea. We do not take a position on competing territorial claims over land features and have no territorial ambitions in the South China Sea; however, we believe the nations of the region should work collaboratively and diplomatically to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation, without threats, and without the use of force.

Guidelines for the Implementation of the DOC 2011

Reaffirming that the DOC is a milestone document signed between the ASEAN Member States and China, embodying their collective commitment to promoting peace, stability and mutual trust and to ensuring the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea;

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