China’s Inopportune Pandemic Assertiveness

For a state just beginning to recover from Covid-19, China has been remarkably active in pressing its sovereignty claims. Chinese forces have been involved in a spate of incidents around its borders, most recently a series of tense encounters with India. Foreign media have seized on this as another example of Chinese opportunism, in which Beijing shamelessly presses its territorial agenda against weaker rivals still in the throes of the disease. However, China’s actions also constitute a strategic blunder, sacrificing the propaganda value of its contributions to regional pandemic responses and weakening its long-running attempts to dilute US influence. This gives Washington a second chance at drawing a contrast with China and demonstrating concrete leadership for a region still reeling from Covid-19’s effects.

Untimely Bellicosity

South China Sea: US Joins the Battle of Diplomatic Notes

US Joins the Battle of Diplomatic NotesOn June 1, 2020, Ambassador Kelly Craft, the United States’ representative to the United Nations, sent a letter to the secretary-general of the United Nations regarding Note Verbale No. CML/14/2019. Issued by the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China on December 12, 2019, the Note Verbale was a response to Malaysia’s same-day submission of its extended continental shelf (beyond 200 nautical miles) to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).

By this act, the United States, a non-claimant country that is further away from the immediate South China Sea region, has involved itself in the legal battle of diplomatic note exchanges between China and Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, dating back to December 2019.

Vietnam, Japan hold deputy defense minister-level talks

VNJapan hold deputy defenseDuring the call, General Vinh shared the COVID-19 situation in Vietnam with the Japanese Vice Defense Minister, adding that Vietnam has achieved success in controlling the disease thanks to the engagement of the whole political system and the firm direction of the Government, as well as the participation of all ministries, agencies and localities, with the military playing an important and active role.

He underscored that Vietnam highly values the achievements of Japan and the role and contributions of the Japanese Ministry of Defense in COVID-19 prevention and control. He also praised the international cooperation spirit of Japan in the sharing of information and experience in dealing with the pandemic and its support for other countries.

As the fight against COVID-19 is still complicated, the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense wishes to continue cooperating, supporting and sharing experience with the Japanese Ministry of Defense, he stressed.

Vietnam- France cooperation in COVID-19 fight under discussion

VNFrancecoopThe pair noted with satisfaction great strides in their countries’ strategic partnership politics, economy, trade, aerospace, healthcare, environment protection, education-training, culture and tourism, while highlighting huge potential for the development of bilateral cooperation in the time to come.

The French PM recalled his visit to Vietnam in 2018 and agreed that both nations need to step up communication to devise measures aimed at developing the strategic partnership in a more extensive and effective manner.

Edouard Philippe applauded Vietnam’s efforts in the COVID-19 fight and thanked the Vietnamese Government and people for their medical supplies for his country, which he said indicate the sentiment and close ties between the two nations.

Undersea cable at Hoang Sa continues China’s violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty

Undersea cable at Hoang Sa continuesAll activities undertaken without permission on Hoang Sa Islands, including the placement of undersea cables, are violations of Vietnam's sovereignty, its Foreign Ministry says.

"All activities related to Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands without Vietnam’s permission violate Vietnam’s sovereignty and hold no value," the ministry's spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said at a press meet Thursday.

She was responding to inquiries regarding China apparently laying undersea cables between artificial features on the Paracel Islands.

Chinese cable ship Tian Yi Hai Gong sailed from a shipyard in Shanghai in late May and reached the Paracel Islands on May 28, according to satellite images and vessel tracking software, the Benar News, an online news service, reported on June 8.

China shows blatant intention to monopolize the South China Sea during the COVID-19 pandemic

China shows blatant intention to monopolize the South China Sea during the COVID19 pandemicThrough recent aggressive actions, Beijing authorities have come forward with their pervasive scheme to monopolize the South China Sea as the whole world is occupied responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Observers have warned of Beijing's new aggressions in the South China Sea following the COVID-19 outbreak. Yet even when the world is still struggling to contain the deadly disease, with China itself facing new outbreaks throughout the country, Beijing included, ruling authorities in Beijing have continued with a series of new aggressions in the South China Sea in just over a month.

In the face of the on-going pandemic, the international community has shown concerns about instability in the South China Sea due to these aggressive acts from China. Most notably, analysts are very concerned that on April 18, 2020, Beijing explicitly announced the establishment of two so-called "Xisha District" and "Nansha District" within "Sansha" City, which China illegally declared in the South China Sea in 2012.

As a Vietnamese person residing in Russia, I have had the opportunity to discuss Chinese actions in the South China Sea with Mr. Grigory Loksin from the Centre of Vietnam and ASEAN Studies under the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Far Eastern Studies. According to Mr. Grigory Loksin, such aggressive behavior showed that Chinese leaders were trying to take advantage of the major global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and establish complete control over the South China Sea and turn it into their "home pond".

US rejects China maritime claims in South China Sea

US rejects China maritime claims in South China SeaBEIJING — A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple territorial disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons. The waters are a major shipping route for global commerce and are rich in fish and possible oil and gas reserves.


The U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations has fired back at Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Ambassador Kelly Craft's note weighs in on Malaysia's behalf in its bid to reject China-imposed limits on its continental shelf allowing it rights to resources.

"The United States rejects these maritime claims as inconsistent with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention," Craft's note said.

China in December issued a rejection of Malaysia's petition to extend its continental shelf. Beijing ignored a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague that invalidated most of China's claims to virtually the entire South China Sea.

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US UN Ambassador Pushes Back on Chinese South China Sea Claims

US UN Ambassador Pushes Back on Chinese South China Sea ClaimsIn a significant step to push back on China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea at multilateral forums, the United States has challenged Beijing’s claims at the United Nations.

On Monday, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations formally submitted a note verbale — a diplomatic communication — to the office of the UN Secretary-General’s office arguing that China’s maritime claims in the disputed South China Sea were “inconsistent with international law.”

The U.S. note verbale was in response to December 2019 communications by China responding to a submission by the Malaysian government to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, seeking an extended continental shelf in the South China Sea.

The U.S. statement, attributed to Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, focused solely on Chinese claims and “does not comment on Malaysia’s submission to the CLCS.”

ASEAN's role in the South China Sea amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

ASEANs role in the South China Sea amidst the COVID19 pandemicAs the global COVID-19 pandemic rages on, both the United States and China have intensified their military activities in the South China Sea, while the fierce debate between the two sides over the origin of coronavirus continues. China has launched an anti-American propaganda campaign, accusing the United States of being responsible for bringing the corona virus to Wuhan; while the United States calls it the "Chinese virus".

There is a fierce strategic competition going on between China and the United States in regional and international spheres. Since becoming the President of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump has implemented many measures to contain China, as he deems China the "most dangerous opponent" who challenges America's number one superpower position.

The United States has since made numerous attempts to increase pressure on China in many areas. Besides trade, intellectual property rights, or human rights issues, the United States has played two key strategic "cards" in the region, namely Taiwan and the South China Sea. In return, China has always sought ways to push the United States out of the South China Sea and to prevent them from interfering in Taiwan.

In letter to UN Chief, Indonesia takes stand on South China Sea

In letter to UN Chief Indonesia takes stand on South China SeaIndonesia added its weight to recent diplomatic moves by ASEAN members opposing Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea, sending a rare diplomatic note to the head of the United Nations earlier this week.

The letter, sent to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday, spelled out the Indonesian government’s support for a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, when the court sided with the Philippines in a case that Manila brought against China over a territorial dispute in the sea.

“Indonesia reiterates that the Nine-Dash line map implying historic rights claim clearly lacks international legal basis and is tantamount to upset UNCLOS 1982,” said the letter from Indonesia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, referring to a boundary on Chinese maps that encompasses Beijing’s claims in the maritime region.

“As a State Party to UNCLOS 1982, Indonesia has consistently called for the full compliance toward international law, including UNCLOS 1982. Indonesia hereby declares that it is not bound by any claims made in contravention to international law, including UNCLOS 1982,” the letter stated.

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