Sunday, August 31, 2014

Beijing continues pressing Hanoi

Most recently soon after Vietnam Communist Party Politburo's Special Envoy Le Hong Anh's visit to Beijing the Global Times on its issue dated August 27, 2014 published an article containing hostile arrogant attitudes towards Vietnam. More than any words this article once more shows clearly Chinese leaders's double-faced scheme  in dealing with its Southern "brother of ideology".  Hereunder is the article.  

Hanoi's deeds matter more than words    

Vietnam's Communist Party Politburo's Le Hong Anh arrived in Beijing Tuesday for a two-day visit, as a special envoy of the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong. Several analysts hold that Anh's China trip is aimed at easing thetensions between the two countries. Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binhsaid onMonday that Vietnam regrets the damage to foreign-invested companies and thedeaths and injuries of Chinese workers in the riots during May and that it has madecompensation to affected companies and intends to provide more.
HoweverVietnam is not a country that always walks the talkso we have to wait to see itsdeeds.
Vietnam is a highly diversified country among China's neighborsAnd now it is difficult to say which nation displays more interest in developing the bilateral tiesWith a brewingterritorial disputethe two neighbors have suffered several battles since China adopted the policy of reform and opening up in 1978. Similar political systems facilitate the two sides to communicate with each other but play a quite limited role in eliminating the differences.
Both China and Vietnam have advantages in this simmering rowBeijing has a strategic edge and a powerful resolvewhile Hanoi has a geographical advantage as it is located 
nearer to the South China Sea.
FurthermoreChina's policy must remain consistent with its global strategic interests.
Plusthe US'"pivot to Asiastrategy provides Vietnam with an opportunity to involve thegreatest power in the contentionAlthough Washington and Hanoi are not military allies,they can still support each other to gain benefit.
MeanwhileJapan and the Philippines have also been stirring up provocations in the SouthChina SeaAll these elements have endowed Hanoi with capital to contend with China.
It should be noted that this is a normal state of the South China Sea but Beijing will be thedeciding force once the Sino-Vietnamese contradiction flares upChina is capable of 
temporarily laying aside other strategic endeavors to concentrate on dealing with any 
provocateur in its peripheryThis circumstanceonce happeningwill incur more losses to Hanoi than to Beijing.
Vietnam lacks the impetus to improve relations with ChinaThis also explains why Hanoi israther to play Taichi with ChinaAs socialist nationsboth of them have borne political  pressure from the West.
Whether the incumbent Vietnamese government expects to mend fences with China is up  to its domestic political stability.
A fundamental solution to the intractable issue between China and Vietnam calls for afavorable regional environmentBeijing can't afford to allow the bilateral conundrum to drag on.
We must learn to care for the interests in different directions and adopt a positive and 
staunch attitude toward this issueWe should let Vietnam realize that siding with 
Washington to contain Beijing will cost it more than taking a China-friendly policy as national strategy.
(Editor:Liang Jun、Huang Jin)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Is China’s Charm Offensive Dead?

Publication: China Brief Volume: 14 Issue: 15

July 31, 2014 10:17 AM Age: 28 days
A series of seemingly unprovoked actions in the South and East China Sea has been described as an abandonment of the “second charm offensive” launched last year by Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, China has continued to pursue economic and diplomatic cooperation with its Southeast Asian neighbors even as it contests territory with them at sea. Rather than choosing between two different approaches to “periphery diplomacy,” Xi is attempting to unite them in a single, “proactive” strategy that advances Chinese interests.

Monday, August 25, 2014

China’s 50,000 Secret Weapons in the South China Sea

The rise of "fishing pole" diplomacy?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

China’s "Gorbachev" Is Tearing the Communist Party Apart

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

China expands its reach in the South China Sea. What's the end goal? (+ video)

Beijing wants to assert its preeminence in Asia. But not so strongly as to push its neighbors into the arms of the United States. 

By , Staff Writer 

  • View Caption
It is typhoon season in the South China Sea. But more dangerous than the physical winds tearing down homes and trees is a brewing political storm that threatens the peace in one of the world’s most strategic flash points.
Over the past several months China has set itself on a collision course with its Southeast Asian neighbors, taking a series of forceful steps to assert territorial claims over potentially valuable rocks, reefs, and waters that other nations claim, too.
Some of them, such as Vietnam and the Philippines, are alarmed enough to have voiced their anger publicly. Others, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei, have been more cautious. 
Recommended: How much do you know about China? Take our quiz.
Their collective disquiet has drawn in the United States. Senior US diplomats and defense officials have bluntly accused China of fomenting instability in the region and intimidating its neighbors.
China’s oft-repeated pledge of “peaceful development” and its offer of “amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness” to Southeast Asia are looking threadbare. Adding to the uncertainty is the lack of clarity surroundingBeijing’s goals.
They may not be clear even to Beijing, where more dovish and more hawkish factions appear to be debating the wisdom of China’s recent moves. If Beijing’s abrasive attitude pushes its neighbors to seek help from Washington, some analysts here are warning, it will mean only trouble for China.
Instead of ending up as the naturally dominant power surrounded by economically dependent smaller neighbors, China would find itself strategically isolated in the region and facing off directly with the US.
“There are some inside the system who are wondering ... whether or not this is all going to backfire,” Christopher Johnson, a China analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, told those at a recent conference on China’s intentions.
At the same time, he added, there is “a possibility that they [the Chinese government] are not scoring ‘own goals,’ that they know exactly what they are doing with this strategy because they think it will be effective” in intimidating China’s neighbors into submission to Beijing’s regional domination.

'Salami slicing'

There is less ambiguity about what China has actually done in the South China Sea this year.
On Jan. 1, it imposed rules demanding that anyone fishing in waters it claims, which make up nearly 90 percent of the South China Sea, should get prior permission from the Chinese authorities.
In March a Chinese Coast Guard vessel prevented the Philippine Army from resupplying its soldiers based on a rusting ship grounded on the Second Thomas Reef in the Spratly Islands, which Beijing and Manila both claim.
Over the past few months, a Chinese dredging vessel has been creating an artificial island on the previously submerged Johnson South Reef, which the Philippines also claims. The company doing the work has published computer mock-up images of an airstrip it says is planned.
In May the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation moved an oil drilling rig into disputed waters near the Paracel Islands, which Vietnam claims. A Chinese barge accompanying the rig rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat during clashes.
All these moves appeared to violate an agreement that China signed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 12 years ago in which both sides pledged to “exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.”
“China has been very opportunistic, pushing and pushing to see what they can get ... and taking as much as they can,” says David Arase, who teaches international politics at the Johns Hopkins University campus in Nanjing, China.
By taking small steps to avoid provoking Washington to act in support of its regional allies, China is trying to “dishearten” rival claimants and “resign them to the fact that they have to give up their rights,” Professor Arase says.
“They are continuing with their salami slicing, reef by reef, step by step,” said Tran Truong Thuy, an analyst at Vietnam’s Institute for East Sea Studies, at a recent CSIS conference. “In reality they want to change ... the South China Sea into a Chinese lake.”

Are China's claims legitimate?

China insists its actions are legitimate since, in an oft-repeated official phrase, Beijing enjoys “indisputable sovereignty” over all the islands in the South China Sea and “their adjacent waters” on historical grounds, no matter how far they are from the mainland or how close to other countries’ coastlines.
That is debatable, say international law experts. Chinese maps show what it calls a “nine-dashed line” around the edge of the South China Sea, shaped in the form of a lolling cow’s tongue, cutting through several neighboring countries’ 200-mile exclusive economic zones and their continental shelves. But Beijing has never clearly explained just what this line signifies.
“Even in China there are different ideas” on the subject, says Xue Li, head of the international strategy department at the China Academy of Social Sciences. Members of the military insist the line marks China’s national boundary; others suggest it encloses China’s historical waters; some scholars say it merely demarcates the land features over which China claims sovereignty.
The Philippines is challenging the legality of the “nine-dashed line” in a case it has brought before a tribunal of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. China has refused to participate in the case, and few foreign legal experts say Beijing could win it.
China might, however, try to defend the line anyway by altering facts on the ground. Nationalist sentiment is strong in China: President Xi Jinping has shown himself readier to take risks than his predecessor, and territorial assertion could prove an attractive way to illustrate the “national rejuvenation” he has promised as China takes its rightful place in the world.

Xi ‘does not want to look like a chicken’

“Domestic opinion is very important to Xi Jinping,” says Zhu Feng, the head of the recently created Collaborative Innovation Center for South China Sea Studies at Nanjing University, a think tank to coordinate South China Sea studies. “He does not want to look like a chicken.”
At the same time, suggests Mr. Johnson of CSIS, Mr. Xi may believe he can get away with current policy because “ultimately, ASEAN countries will stand aside because of their interest and dependence on China’s economic prospects.”
But the costs of appearing to neighbors like an arrogant bully are not negligible. The recent row with Vietnam over the oil rig “completely turned around relations with Vietnam,” says Carl Thayer, an expert on Southeast Asia at the University of New South Wales in Australia. 
The Vietnamese prime minister threatened to follow the Philippines to an international court and “the idea of getting out of China’s orbit has gone viral in Vietnamese public opinion.”
China withdrew the rig a month ahead of schedule, perhaps to cool the crisis, but not before it had drawn heavy international criticism and further stoked regional fears.
A survey published in July by the Pew Research Center found that a majority of people in eight of 10 countries neighboring China are worried that the Asian giant’s territorial ambitions could lead to military conflict.
Chinese analysts insist that Beijing’s traditional aim of maintaining a peaceful international environment to favor its economic development has not changed fundamentally, nor has its declared policy of shelving territorial disputes and jointly developing energy and other resources.
The challenge, says Lou Chunhao, an analyst at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, affiliated with China’s Ministry of State Security, is “how to achieve a balance ... between protecting Chinese rights and sovereignty in the South China Sea and maintaining a benign environment.”

China’s rivals see safety in numbers

China’s ASEAN rivals in territorial disputes are not reassured by Beijing’s insistence that they resolve their differences one-on-one; they see safety in numbers. Nor have any of them yet voiced any enthusiasm for Xi’s call for a new Chinacentric security system in the region to replace the US-dominated arrangements that have held for the past 70 years.
“In the final analysis, it is for the people of Asia to run the affairs of Asia, solve the problems of Asia, and uphold the security of Asia,” Xi told an international conference in Shanghai, China, last May.
China’s top long-term goals in the ocean it claims, says Rory Medcalf, head of the international security program at the Lowy Institute, a think tank in Sydney, Australia, is “to ensure that nothing happens in the South China Sea without Chinese blessing” and “maximum freedom of maneuver for its Navy ... to be the dominant military player in those waters.”
An increasingly vocal band of government policy advisers in Beijing are suggesting that those goals would be easier to achieve if China’s neighbors trusted it more; they are urging a reset in China’s neighborhood diplomacy.
“China’s Navy could already beat all the ASEAN navies. The question is whether it would be worth it,” Mr. Xue argues. “We would pick up a sesame seed and throw away a watermelon,” he says, referring to the manifold economic benefits that closer ties with Southeast Asia would bring.
“The South China Sea could be a real battlefield, and that would be very harmful to China’s future,” adds Professor Zhu. “We need to find a way to settle [the disputes] piece by piece.”
Given China’s geographic position and its economic and political strength, “it is quite normal that China should be the dominant power in the South China Sea,” Xue says. “And just because of that, maybe we need to make compromises with our neighbors.”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Weekly News 4/8-10/8


-(Vietnamnet 8/8) Vietnam decries China’s illegal activities on Paracel islands: Vietnam has repeatedly asserted its undisputable sovereignty over the two archipelagoes- Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly). –(VOV 8/8) ASEAN to deliberate maritime security and safety in East Sea
-(Reuters 8/8) U.S. to press South China Sea freeze despite China rejection: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, at a meeting with Southeast Asian nations this weekend, will press for a voluntary freeze on actions aggravating territorial disputes in the South China Sea, in spite of Beijing's rejection of the idea. –(Vietnamplus 7/8) ASEAN senior officials agree on AMM-47 agenda
-(Kyodo News 7/8) ASEAN to call for action to reduce tension in the South China Sea: Foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will call for "determined actions" to reduce the mounting tensions in the South China Sea, saying recent incidents have strained relations among countries, increased levels of mistrust, and heightened the dangers of unintended conflict in the region, ASEAN diplomats said here Thursday.
-(The Wall Street Journal 6/8) Indian Warship Visiting Vietnam on 'Goodwill Trip’: An Indian warship is to take part in exercises with the Vietnamese navy this week in the tense waters of the South China Sea, where maritime disputes between China and its neighbors have intensified.
-(PhilStar 6/8) Japan: China to be more aggressive in South China Sea: China is likely to further expand intensify its presence in disputed areas of the East China and South China seas as well as the Pacific Ocean, Japan believes.
-(Vietnamplus 6/8) Scholars raise eyebrow over China’s South China Sea ambition: Officials and scholars spoke out against China’s ambition to occupy the entire South China Sea via its groundless “nine-dash line” claim at a workshop in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 5.
-(VOA News 5/8) ASEAN ministers to discuss South China Sea, other issues: Foreign ministers of Southeast Asian countries, as well as those from the U.S., China and other nations, are gathering in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw this week for two key meetings, including the 27-member regional security forum. -(Reuters 5/8) U.S. to press South China Sea freeze despite China rejection
-(Reuters 5/8) Philippines sentences 12 Chinese fishermen to jail: A Philippine court on Tuesday found 12 Chinese fishermen guilty of illegal fishing in Philippine waters, sending them to jail for six to 12 years, the first convictions since tension between the neighbors flared over rival claims in the South China Sea.
-(Malay Mail Online 5/8) Japan warns China over ‘dangerous acts’ in South China Sea: Japan warned today that China’s “dangerous acts” over territorial claims in the East China Sea could lead to “unintended consequences” in the region, as fears grow of a potential military clash.
-(Global Post 5/8) Taiwan's Ma urges peaceful resolution to East, South China sea disputes: Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou urged all parties concerned Tuesday to peacefully resolve territorial disputes in the East and South China seas in marking the second anniversary of the East China Sea Peace Initiative he proposed two years ago.
-(National Interest 5/8) China’s Epic Fail in the South China Sea: Whatever Beijing hoped to achieve with the deployment of HS-981—oil, territorial advantage or long-term strategic gain—didn’t work out.
-(Reuters 4/8) China says can build what it wants on South China Sea isles: China can build whatever it wants on its islands in the South China Sea, a senior Chinese official said on Monday, rejecting proposals ahead of a key regional meeting to freeze any activity that may raise tensions in disputed waters there.
-(Channel NewsAsia 4/8) Philippines says China sea action plan gaining support: The Philippines said Monday (August 4) it has won support from Vietnam, Indonesia and Brunei for a plan to ease tensions in the South China Sea which it intends to present at a regional meeting this week.
-(Foreign Policy 4/8) It's Not About the Oil -- It's About the Tiny Rocks: What everyone gets wrong about Beijing's bullying in the South China Sea.
-(Tuoitre 2/8) Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Force vessels to be equipped with weapons: All ships under the management of the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Force will be equipped with weapons starting September 15, according to a newly-issued government decree. –(Vietnamplus 2/8) Quang Nam fishermen equipped with communication devices
-(Global Research 2/8) Influential Washington Think Tank Pushes US War Drive in the South China Sea: In the new report, the CSIS is laying out an even more aggressive agenda for Washington, with two basic thrusts: establishing the legal pretext for rejecting Beijing’s claim to the South China Sea, and escalating the US military presence in the region.
-(Manila Bulletin 2/8) PH to tackle 3-point action plan on sea dispute: The Philippines will formally discuss with fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states its proposal that it hopes will address the escalating tensions in the South China Sea during meetings of the regional block this month in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. -(People’s Daily 2/8) China Should Uphold International Law to Win Support from Regional States
-(The Wall Street Journal 1/8) China Expands Offshore Oil Fleet for Contested Waters: China is accelerating the expansion of its offshore oil fleet—and adding coast guard vessels to protect it—as it ventures farther into the sea for energy resources, threatening more altercations with neighbors.

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