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Vietnam’s Response to the United States’ Changing Approach to the South China Sea

Vietnam responseJuly 2020 marked a significant shift in developments regarding the South China Sea. The Trump administration announced a series of high-level statements that explicitly reject China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea as inconsistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The U.S. statements further reaffirm the 2016 tribunal ruling, from The Hague, against China’s claims. The U.S. shift from being officially neutral and not taking the side of claimant states in the South China Sea to rejecting Beijing’s claims as unlawful and excessive are advantageous to the Southeast Asian claimant states. Yet, across Southeast Asian capitals, views on the United States’ new statements are divided. A few have publicly and directly referred to the statements, but many are worried that the United States’ seeming position change is less related to upholding international law and has more to do with Washington trying to escalate tensions with China.

Could Donald Trump start war with China over Scarborough Shoal to win re-election?

Could Donald Trump start warA Chinese military adviser has claimed the United States could launch an attack on disputed Chinese-controlled reefs in the South China Sea to boost Donald Trump’s prospects of winning re-election as US president.

Observers said they were concerned about accidental clashes as Beijing and Washington increasingly confront each other – but although a US offensive could spark a drastic escalation into all-out war, they viewed the possibility of it happening as low, especially without the Philippines’ agreement.

Wang Yunfei, a retired Chinese naval officer, recently wrote in a column on a military website that Trump, trailing in polls ahead of November 3’s US election, could start a “controllable” military conflict with China in the disputed South China Sea to boost his approval rating.

China's U.S. envoy says Beijing does not want further rise in tensions

China US envoyWASHINGTON (Reuters) - Beijing does not want tensions with Washington to escalate further following tit-for-tat consulate closures over the past weeks, the Chinese ambassador to the United States said on Tuesday.

The world’s top two economies should work to cooperate instead of confronting each other, Ambassador Cui Tiankai said, striking a relatively conciliatory tone at the virtual Aspen Security forum.

“I don’t think a new Cold War would serve anybody’s interest,” said Cui, seen as a moderate voice among Beijing’s top diplomatic brass. “Why should we allow history to repeat ... when we are faced with so many new challenges?” he said, while rejecting U.S. allegations of Chinese spying in the Houston consulate shut down by Washington last month.

U.S. health chief to be highest-ranking official in decades to visit Taiwan, angering China

US health chiefTAIPEI (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar will visit Taiwan in coming days, his office said on Tuesday, making the highest-level visit by a U.S. official in four decades - a move that angered China, which claims the island as its own.

Azar’s visit will worsen already poor Beijing-Washington relations, inflamed over trade, the pandemic and human rights, even as democratic Taiwan has welcomed the show of support in the face of unrelenting Chinese pressure.

During his visit, Azar will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said, which may infuriate China further.

U.S., China Plan to Review Phase-One Trade Deal Mid-Month

US China plan to reviewSenior U.S. and Chinese officials are planning to assess the nations’ trade agreement this month against a backdrop of rising tensions between the countries, according to people briefed on the matter.

The discussion on the so-called phase-one deal, led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, would take place on or around Aug. 15, six months after the agreement took effect, as directed in the text of the accord, the people said.

The White House declined to comment, and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The planned talks were reported earlier Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal.

The US-China Relationship Is a Shakespearean Tragedy

US China relationshipThe one common and peculiar aspect of most Shakespearean tragedies is the fact that the catastrophic events and unfolding misfortunes seem almost inevitable. While characters within the play are well aware of the fact that things are quickly going from bad to worse, it seems almost impossible to change the course of events. Unfortunately, the current U.S.-China relationship seems to be showing the same tendency.

Many Shakespearean tragedies were caused by accidents, which in turn were a result of carelessness and miscommunication. U.S.-China relations have never been smooth and peaceful and have in the past experienced various ups and downs and dangerous crises such as the 1999 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and the 2001 military aircraft collision incident, among others. The main reason why none of these incidents developed into a major tragedy, despite their severity, was owing to the different generation of political leaders, diplomats, and military officials on both sides, who shared a high level of mindfulness and sensitivity toward this fragile relationship. Throughout their years of association, both sides took extra care and preventive measures to avoid misjudgment and accidents.

Hu Xijin’s opinion only exposes Beijing’s spitefulness

imagesThe Chinese Embassy in Hanoi has recently uploaded on its website an article named “Sincere words for Vietnamese people” written by Hu Xijin, the Editor-in-Chief of Global Times – an official newspaper of Chinese government. Mr Hu Xijin shared Beijing’s view on the 25-year bilateral relations between the US and Vietnam. Accordingly, China was believed to be Vietnam’s only “good friend”, and there are five reasons for which Vietnam should not bolster relations with the US.

As an overseas Vietnamese, I am truly discontent with Mr Hu Xijin’s spiteful opinion, and what’s more he patted himself on the back for representing the viewpoint of the majority of 1.4 billion Chinese people. On this occasion, I would like to respond to Mr Hu Xijin and the Chinese authority in Beijing as follows:

China is pushing its South China Sea claims during the coronavirus pandemic

China is pushingAustralia and the United States this month hardened their position on the South China Sea, where Washington has accused Beijing of attempting to build a "maritime empire" in the potentially energy-rich waters, despite regional concerns.

The rivals have accused each other of stoking tension in the strategic waterway at a time of strained relations over everything from the new coronavirus to trade to Hong Kong.

A statement from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on July 13 was the first time the United States had called China's claims in the sea unlawful and accused Beijing of a "campaign of bullying".

Australia then followed suit, writing a letter to the United Nations in which it said China's territorial claims in the contested waters were "inconsistent" with international law.

South China Sea dispute: Australia says Beijing's claims have no legal basis

Southchinasea disputeAustralia has formally rejected China's territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea, aligning itself more closely with the US as tensions rise.

In a declaration to the United Nations, Australia said the claims, which take in the majority of the sea, had "no legal basis". China has not reacted.

It comes after the US called some of China's actions in the area "unlawful".

In recent years China has built bases on artificial islands in the sea, saying its rights go back centuries.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam contest China's claims. The countries have wrangled over territory for decades but tensions have steadily increased in recent years, with several maritime confrontations taking place.

US Could Attack China, Seize Disputed Islands In South China Sea Before 2020 US Elections

US could attack chinaAnti-China waves in the US have reached dangerous heights after Washington abruptly demanded the closure of the Chinese Consulate General in Houston. China in retaliation asked the US to close its consulate in Chengdu, nose-diving ties between the world’s two biggest economies.

The United States under Donald Trump is waging an ideological battle against China. In particular, the US defence forces have constantly provoked China by dispatching naval vessels and aircraft carriers to the South China Sea.

The dangerous manoeuvres by the US Navy could trigger a military confrontation between the two nations. The constant provocation and threats by the US is pushing the region in chaos and it is quite likely that the US could further provoke Beijing by attacking Chinese controlled islands and reefs.

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