China and Vietnam in Escalating Dispute in South China
China has demanded that Vietnam stop “all invasive activities” after accusing it of illegally entering its waters and endangering Chinese fishermen’s lives in an escalating dispute over territory in the South China Sea. The verbal clash with Vietnam follows a slap down of the Philippines in another area of the South China Sea where China and a handful of countries are eyeing rich oil and gas reserves. The disputes have marred China’s relations with its neighbours and pulled in the United States, which considers some of China’s sea claims as international waters. The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued its warning to.
Analysis: SE Asia wary of China as sea claim disputes intensify
(Reuters) - A buoy, posts and building materials on an inhabited outcrop sound unremarkable, but they mark an escalation of a dispute over one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, resource wealth, and how Southeast Asia manages China's rise as a regional power.
Harsh rhetoric and an occasional stand-off have long been part of the jousting over the contested South China Sea, but recently the incidents are more frequent and the complaints from Southeast Asian capitals about China's actions are louder.
The region cannot take on Beijing militarily, but nor do they want to roll over and lose territories near their coastlines. Internationalizing the dispute, including encouraging a U.S. presence in the sea, is one way to protect their interests.
"I am increasingly favoring the word aggressive over assertive in describing China's behavior in the South China Sea. And that is a fairly important distinction," said Ian Storey, a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.
In recent weeks China and Vietnam have traded accusations of violating each others sovereignty at sea, prompting a second rare demonstration against China in Hanoi on Sunday.
But it is the Philippines' claims that China erected poles, placed a buoy and left building materials near the Amy Douglas Bank that is most serious of recent incidents, amounting to an accusation that Beijing has breached the 2002 Declaration of the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).
Beijing claims 'indisputable sovereignty' over South China Sea
The Chinese military declared Friday that China had "indisputable sovereignty" over the South China Sea but insisted it would continue to allow others to freely navigate one of the busiest waterways in the world.
The statement by the People's Liberation Army seemed designed to reiterate China's claims to the entire 1.3 million-square-mile waterway while calming concerns in Washington and Asian capitals that its policy toward the region had suddenly become significantly more aggressive.
"China has indisputable sovereignty of the South Sea, and China has sufficient historical and legal backing" to support its claims, Senior Col. Geng Yansheng, a Ministry of Defense spokesman, told reporters Friday during a visit to an engineering unit on the outskirts of Beijing.
But he added, "We will, in accordance with the demands of international law, respect the freedom of the passage of ships or aircraft from relevant countries."
Why the South China Sea is turning more turbulent
A US-China military rivalry may be behind China's recent aggressiveness in the South China Sea. On Sunday, Vietnam claims China cut the underwater cables of one of its survey ships.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Nearly a year after the US stepped into a simmering dispute between China and smaller countries in the region over potentially oil-rich islands in the South China Sea, tensions are rising again.
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A combination photo shows handout pictures of Vietnamese survey boat Binh Minh 02 (top) and two Chinese marine surveillance ships, offshore of Vietnam's central Phu Yen province May 26, and released by Petrovietnam May 29. Vietnam accused China on Sunday of increasing regional tensions and said its navy would do everything necessary to protect its territorial integrity after Chinese patrol boats "interfered with" a Vietnamese oil and gas survey ship in the South China Sea.
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Since March, both Vietnam and the Philippines have accused Chinese forces of aggressive acts in disputed areas. Military experts say China’s sustained military buildup enables it to project more naval power in an oceanic region where the US Navy has long held sway. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates was due to meet Friday with his Chinese counterpart at a security summit in Singapore. “We are not trying to hold China down,” he told reporters Thursday.
Prior to the recent tension, however, analysts say China had begun to dial down its behavior and renew diplomatic efforts to win over its neighbors. The Chinese charm offensive began soon after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a regional security forum in Vietnam last July to stake out the US strategic interest in the South China Sea and offer to mediate peace talks.