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    » 06/15/2011, 00.00

    CHINA – VIETNAM

    South China Sea: Beijing excludes the use of force, but warns US



    Beijing tries to reduce tensions with Vietnam and the Philippines, urging them “to do more” for “peace and stability”. It also wants issues to be settled through bilateral talks. Hanoi prefers instead a “multilateral” approach, whilst Manila calls for US help. China warns that “internationalising” the issue will make matters worse.
    Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China will not use force in South China Sea disputes. However, “Countries not directly involved” should keep out, Chinese officials said in a clear warning to the United States, as the Philippines and Vietnam seek Washington’s help to resist mainland’s ambitions. Chinese officials and state media warned yesterday that "internationalising" disputes in the South China Sea will only make matters worse and stressed that the problems can be resolved only through bilateral consultations among countries that have territorial claims in the region.

    Beijing’s statements follow Vietnam live-fire drills in the South China Sea on Monday, deemed “routine” by Hanoi but slammed in China, as well as the publication of a decree signed by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung specifying who would be exempt from military call-up in a time of war. Vietnam’s last (victorious) war was in 1979 against China.

    "We will not resort to the use of force or the threat of force," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. However, he condemned any action that would exacerbate the dispute, and urged those involved to "do more that is beneficial to regional peace and stability".

    "Countries that are not directly involved should respect the efforts of directly related countries to resolve the issue through direct negotiations," Hong added.

    The warning appears to be directed at Filipino President Benigno Aquino, who said that his country might benefit from US help in the tense dispute with China. Washington in fact is interested in controlling the area.

    Aquino said he would rename the sea West Philippine Sea. For the Filipino president, the US naval presence in the area would guarantee freedom of navigation and security.

    For its part, Hanoi is actively promoting a “multilateral” approach to dispute settlement, a position rejected by Beijing, which prefers to negotiate separately with each nation of the region.

    Tensions worsened recently of two separate incidents involving Vietnamese and Chinese boats off the Spratly and Parecel Islands.

    According to a Chinese scholar, the fact that North Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Van Dong sent a cable to Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in 1958 that recognised China’s claims to the Xisha (Spratly) and Nansha (Paracel) Islands boost Beijing’s claims.

    Among the nations of the Asia-Pacific region, China has the most extensive claims in the South China Sea, which includes the uninhabited Spratly and Paracel Islands, with rich fishing grounds and important oil and gas reserves.

    Beijing’s claims also reflect its strategic goal of hegemonic control over trade and mineral development, above all oil and natural gas.

    Chinese demands have not gone unchallenged. Contenders include Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, as well as the United States, which has its own strategic interests in the region.

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    See also

    13/06/2011 VIETNAM – CHINA
    South China Sea: Beijing slams Vietnamese naval drill
    Vietnam started a nine-hour live naval drill in the morning; a second one is set for the evening. No missiles will be used. For Hanoi, the action is a routine annual exercise, but Chinese media see it as a military challenge against Beijing. In Vietnam, more protests are held against Chinese claims to the Spratly and Paracel Islands.

    14/06/2011 VIETNAM – UNITED STATES
    South China Sea: Hanoi and Washington to hold joint naval drill
    Tensions are rising between China and Vietnam. Chinese analysts urge their government to flex its muscles. Vietnamese PM issues call-up decree in case of war. The last conflict between the two nations goes back to 1979.

    04/08/2011 ASIA
    South China Sea: Beijing close to a deal with Hanoi but far from Manila
    China and Vietnam agree to “peaceful measures” to settle their border dispute through cooperation and bilateral relations. Tensions between Beijing and Manila are up as China threatens the Philippines after Manila builds a military structure on one of the Spratly Islands.

    30/05/2011 VIETNAM – CHINA
    Tensions between Beijing and Hanoi rise over maritime borders
    The Vietnamese government accuses China of fuelling regional tensions. A Chinese ship cuts the cables of a Vietnamese ship. Beijing rejects the charges, claiming instead that its jurisdictional rights have been violated. Anger is growing in Vietnam over Chinese greed.

    07/05/2010 CHINA – JAPAN – VIETNAM
    Tokyo and Hanoi to challenge Chinese sovereignty in the East/South East China Sea
    Japan lodges a formal protest with China because one of ships threateningly approached a Japanese vessel. Vietnam complains about a unilateral fishing ban imposed by China in a disputed area also claimed by Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan.



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