Vietnam tilts to US as tensions rise over oil-rich South China Sea

Hundreds of Vietnamese turned out to protest against Chinese naval operations in disputed waters of the South China Sea on June 5. the protesters in Hanoi marched on the Chinese embassy, shouting slogans including “The Paracels and Spratlys belong to Vietnam”” and “Stop Chinese invasion of Vietnam’s islands.” The demonstrations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City follow a May 26 confrontation between a Vietnamese oil and gas survey ship and Chinese patrol boats. Hanoi accused the Chinese vessels of cutting the cables of the Vietnamese ship conducting seismic research about 120 kilometers off Vietnam’s south-central coast. (BBC News, June 5)

As Vietnamese relations with Chine deteriorate, Hanoi has been moving closer to the United States. The US and Vietnam held unprecedented joint naval exercises last year after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended a South East Asian cooperation summit in Hanoi, where she stated that the US has a “national interest” in mediating disputes between China and its neighbors. (Atlantic Sentinel, May 31)

The South China Sea, which is emerging as a strategic source of hydrocarbons, was also the scene of a near-confrontation between US and Chinese ships two years ago. These developments come as tensions are also escalating between China and Japan over the East China Sea.

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  1. China’s 1,000-year-old South China Sea sovereignty
    Vietnamese and Filipinos should stop encroaching on thousand-year-old Chinese territory.


    “The coast belonged to the Kingdom of Cauchi China. Map of Europe, Africa and … There are some Chinese cultural relics in the Paracel islands dating from …”


    * There are some Chinese cultural relics in the Paracel islands dating from the Tang and Song dynasty eras[12][note 1], and there is some evidence of Chinese habitation on the islands in these periods.[13].”

  2. Vietnam tilts back to China?
    China and Vietnam relaxed tensions over disputed waters in the South China Sea on Oct. 13, signing an agreement that will include the setting up of a hotline between the two countries’ capitals to resolve crises and the initiation of semi-annual talks aimed at finding “a mutually acceptable basic and long-term approach to solving maritime disputes.”

    After signing the agreement in Beijing, Nguyen Phu Trong, general-secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam’s central committee visited China’s southern Guangdong province, urging stronger economic ties between the province and his country.

    But just the previous day, Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang was negotiating another agreement in New Delhi that will cement India’s support for Vietnam’s maritime claims.

    The Indian agreement will expand joint oil exploration in Vietnamese waters, bringing Indian state-owned enterprises into the disputed area, and committing India to backing Vietnam’s position. China has warned India about getting involved before, fearing isolation over its territorial claims. The agreement may boost the Philippines’ effort to organize a united ASEAN stance against China’s position. (The Diplomat, Xinhua, Oct. 13)