BienDong.Net

Learning in the South China Sea: The U.S response to the West Capella standoff

Learning in the South China Sea The U.S response to the West Capella standoffMalaysian oil exploration in a contested area of the South China Sea sparked a “five-nation face off” in April, with Malaysian, Vietnamese, Chinese, U.S., and Australian maritime forces sailing within relatively close proximity. When the responding U.S. Navy Expeditionary Strike Group departed after spending only a few days in the area, some observers panned the U.S. response as uninvited, insufficient, and having emboldened China. The passage of a few weeks has shown these accusations to be premature, but also highlighted a recurring weakness in the U.S. approach to maritime security in the Indo-Pacific. While the U.S. strike group may have departed, U.S. forces sortied from both forward deployed locations and the U.S. homeland to maintain a persistent presence over the South China Sea with platforms ranging from small surface combatants to strategic bombers. China’s presence has remained largely static. Overall, the United States shows progress in its approach but also an inexplicable missed opportunity to reach out to its Southeast Asian partners.

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Malaysia needs to pay attention to increased activities by big powers in the South China Sea

Malaysia needs to pay attention to increased activities by big powers in the South China SeaPUTRAJAYA: Malaysia needs to pay attention to the increased activities by big powers in the South China Sea, said Malaysian King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah on Monday (May 18).

Speaking during his parliamentary address at the Dewan Rakyat, the king said that Malaysia's defence strategy needs to take into account the importance of defence diplomacy, a pragmatic foreign policy, international treaties and its international geopolitical position in the Asia Pacific region.

"The increased activities by big powers in the South China Sea recently needs to be paid attention to," he added.

"Hence, Malaysia needs to be always sensitive to the maritime domain, while crafting a strategy that supports our geopolitical aspirations," he said.

China claims much of the South China Sea, but there are overlapping claims by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Washington and its allies have also challenged Beijing’s territorial claims.

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Revenge of Geopolitics: Rising Tensions in the South China Sea

Revenge of Geopolitics Rising Tensions in the South China SeaMANILA – While China may have recently stolen a Covid-19 march in the contested South China Sea, the United States is pushing back with a countervailing show of force to underscore its commitment to the maritime region’s security.

In recent weeks, the US has stepped up its naval exercises in the disputed maritime area, including through joint exercises between the US Air Force and Marines in the South China Sea as well as integrated surface vessels and submarine war games in the adjoining Philippine Sea.

In late April, the Pentagon deployed the USS Bunker Hill, the USS America and USS Barry warships to the South China Sea, an exceptional show of force, according to strategic analysts. They were accompanied by the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Parramatta frigate.

That was followed by multiple muscular deployments in recent weeks, part of what Pentagon planners say is a new integrated and flexible strategy, one that is clearly aimed at checking China’s expansionist ambitions in the waterway.

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US pushes back on China in South China Sea

US pushes back on China in South China SeaMANILA – While China may have recently stolen a Covid-19 march in the contested South China Sea, the United States is pushing back with a countervailing show of force to underscore its commitment to the maritime region’s security.

In recent weeks, the US has stepped up its naval exercises in the disputed maritime area, including through joint exercises between the US Air Force and Marines in the South China Sea as well as integrated surface vessels and submarine war games in the adjoining Philippine Sea.

In late April, the Pentagon deployed the USS Bunker Hill, the USS America and USS Barry warships to the South China Sea, an exceptional show of force, according to strategic analysts. They were accompanied by the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Parramatta frigate.

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Ignore any new China ADIZ in the South China Sea

Ignore any new China ADIZ in the South China SeaIf China declares a new air defense identification zone in the South China Sea, the world must rally to reject it. What's at stake here is the future of the global economy in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ADIZ issue is a newly relevant concern in light of Taiwan's Ministry of Defense statement last week warning of just this possibility. The ADIZ would require civilian and military aircraft entering the zone to radio Chinese military air controllers with their flight plans and requests for transit approval. China has already declared an ADIZ in the East China Sea. As with that ADIZ, China would hope that the new zone buys practical formality for its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.

While its claims are quite laughable, Beijing has already appointed itself the owner of vast areas of the sea, demanding that foreign nations avoid transiting through the waters without first seeking its permission. Contrary to China's lie that it only seeks friendship with all nations, this territorial seizure campaign aims to extract political deference from regional nations and global trading powers in return for transit rights. And considering that the South China Sea accounts for trillions of dollars in annual trade, this is a big deal.

But there are ways to obstruct China's imperial agenda.

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It’s time for Vietnam and ASEAN to challenge Beijing in the South China Sea

Beijing in the South China SeaOn 14 April, as China’s Haiyang Dizhi 8 survey group sailed into the South China Sea again, Taiwan scrambled ships to monitor the passage of the Chinese navy’s Liaoning aircraft carrier strike group as it went through the Miyako Strait near Okinawa and turned south.

According to a MarineTraffic report on 23 April, the carrier group was operating near Macclesfield Bank, and the survey group was shadowing a Philippines-flagged drilling ship that had been contracted by Malaysia to survey for oil in its exclusive economic zone near the overlapping waters between Malaysia and Vietnam.

This is the third time in recent years that China’s naval activities have threatened a maritime crisis for Vietnam. In May 2014, the Haiyang Dizhi 981 oil rig was parked in Vietnam’s EEZ, and from July to October 2019 the Haiyang Dizhi 8, escorted by armed coastguard vessels, surveyed extensively near the Vanguard Bank, resulting in a month-long standoff with Vietnam.

Now, the Haiyang Dizhi 8 and its escorts appear to be pressuring Malaysia’s new government as they did with Vietnam. While this new standoff was over by 25 April, China’s bullying in the South China Sea won’t stop there, at least for Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

The legal implications of Vietnam’s note verbale protesting China’s claims in relation to East Vietn

The legal implicationEditor's note: In recent weeks, there have been many new developments relating to Bien Dong (the East Vietnam Sea), particularly the circulation of notes verbales by several states — including Malaysia, China, the Philippines and Vietnam — at the United Nations. In this context, Dr. Nguyen Ba Son, president of the Viet Nam Society of International Law (VSIL) gave Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper an interview to discuss the legal implications of these actions, as well as give his opinion on what should be done to maintain peace, stability and to promote peaceful settlement of disputes and cooperation in the Sea.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President, for giving this interview. In the recent weeks, we have witnessed many new developments relating to Bien Dong, in particular the circulation of notes verbales by several states at the United Nations, seizing the attention of the public opinion. In your capacity as president of VSIL, what are your evaluations of these developments from the perspectives of international law?

Dr. Nguyen Ba Son: It is noticeable that the situation in Bien Dong always attracts the attention of the public opinion, not only in the coastal states of the Sea but also in countries outside the region. The complicated developments in relation to Bien Dong, as well as territorial and jurisdictional claims of coastal states have continually been updated by the media in Vietnam and elsewhere, being a hot topic for commentaries at different venues, including on the social sites.

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Bayer Vietnam CEO fined for disseminating nine-dash line map

Bayer Vietnam CEO fined for disseminating nine-dash line mapThe Hanoitimes - The CEO admitted that she sent an attached file having the illegal nine-dash line.

CEO of Bayer Vietnam has been summoned and fined for having disseminated a Chinese map with the unlawful nine-dash line.

Lynette Moey Yu Lin will be fined between VND25 (US$1,086) and VND35 million (US$1,521) for sending a document on Covid-19 – lessons from China with an attached file containing the Chinese map with the nine-dash line to the company’s staff on April 27.

When working with authorities in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City on May 15, Lynette admitted to having sent the attached file of 19 MB and has made effort to retrieve the document.

The news on the spread of the illegal map has immediately sparked wrath among Vietnam netizens who called for dismissal of Lynette Moey Yu Lin, the company’s official apology, and boycott of Bayer products.

So far, Hanoi has strongly opposed China’s self-claimed nine-dash line that covers Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) in the South China Sea, rejecting the Chinese illegal map in all cases both in Vietnam and abroad.

In 2016, a panel in The Hague rejected the legality of China’s claim to waters within a “nine-dash line” that appears on official Chinese maps and encircles as much as 90% of the South China Sea.

Dr. Zachary Abuza, professor at the National War College in Washington, DC, said the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruled that the nine-dash line has no basis as per international law and that the historical rights claimed by China were “extinguished” by the ratification of UNCLOS.

In 2019, Vietnam fined several companies for their “accidental” dissemination of the nine-dash line.

In October 2019, Saigontourist Travel Service Company, one of leading Vietnamese travel companies, was fined VND50 million (US$2,200) for using brochures carrying China’s infamous nine-dash line.

Saigontourist said its Chinese partner supplied the brochure.

“The firm’s violation is very serious, so the inspectorate decided to exceed the maximum fine frame to discipline them,” VnExpress cited Tu Luong, deputy director of Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Information and Communications.

Korea-based CJ CGV Vietnam was fined VND170 million (US$7,400) for licensing Abominable movie that includes the illegal nine-dash line.

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China isolates itself by defying international law in East Sea

China isolates itself by defying international law in East SeaLast month, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs announced the renaming of dozens of islands and reefs in the East Sea, including some located deep inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. It also announced the establishment of what it calls the “Xisha” and “Nansha” districts of Sansha city to administer the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, both of which are under Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea.

These actions have received strong condemnation from Vietnam and the rest of the world. From a world affairs perspective, they demonstrate China’s hegemonic ambition and defiance of international law and threaten regional security, peace, and stability.

Old wine in a new bottle

Beijing’s “Four Sha” plan is really just a variation of the “nine-dash line” which was rejected by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016. No entity in the so-called “Xisha” is defined as an island by Appendix 7 of the Court’s ruling in the lawsuit against China filed by the Philippines. Similarly, what China calls Zhongsha Islands (Macclesfield Bank) are a sunken atoll of underwater reefs.

It is unpersuasive for China to claim sovereignty over the sea, including an exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, or to draw baselines around the entities in “Four Sha”. Some features that might be considered rocks or similar structures, and are submerged during high tide may have been occupied or are located within the exclusive economic zone of neighboring coastal states.

So, China's recent announcements in no way reinforce its baseless sovereignty claims in the East Sea. In essence, the “Four Sha” strategy is just an extension of the nine-dash line map that China often draws on the East Sea to suggest ownership of the area. But there are many major legal loopholes in Beijing’s claim.

Self-isolating, destabilizing strategy

With the world battling COVID-19, Beijing has taken advantage of the pandemic to assert its domination of structures and waters in the East Sea. Its actions are destabilizing the region and undermining negotiations for a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC). It is also tarnishing China’s image.

Observers say that China’s attempts to create a new reality in the East Sea reveals a lack of respect for international law and the legitimate claims of its neighbors in the region.

By violating international law, China is undermining its reputation. As one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China should contribute responsibly to resolving East Sea disputes on the basis of international law and ensuring peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Unfortunately, this seems too much to ask, and world is still waiting for a show of goodwill from China.

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Belgium-Vietnam Friendship Association opposes China's unilateral actions in East Sea

Brussels (VNA) - President of the Belgium-Vietnam Friendship Association Pierre Grega has voiced the association's support for Vietnam as China has increasingly undertaken unilateral actions in the East Sea.

He called on the international community to increase pressure on China to cease such unilateral actions, which are escalating tensions in the East Sea, while quickly identifying solutions for maritime disputes in line with international law.

Grega made note of a series of Chinese actions that have complicated the situation in the East Sea: a Chinese coast guard ship sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat near Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, China sending vessel Haiyan Dizhi 8 into the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam and Malaysia, and China declaring the establishment of “Xisha district” (Vietnam's Hoang Sa archipelago) and “Nansha district” (Vietnam's Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago) which it states are part of the so-called “Sansha city”.

These unilateral actions, he stressed, run counter to the fundamental principles that guide the settlement of maritime issues as well as the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), signed between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China in 2002.

They are harmful to negotiations over a legally-binding Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), Grega noted.

He also emphasized that Vietnamese fishermen need to conduct safe fishing activities within their country’s territorial waters and that Vietnam wants to resolve tensions via international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

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