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    » 06/13/2011, 00.00

    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.
    Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Vietnamese Navy launched a live-fire naval drill off its central coast on Monday amid a nasty spat with China following two maritime incidents over disputed territory in the South China Sea. For Hanoi, “It has nothing to do with the recent incidents involving China”, but for China’s media, it is a military challenge against China, also noting that Vietnamese authorities are tolerating street protests against Beijing.

    A naval officer, who declined to give his name, said the first part of the nine-hour exercise began in the morning on and around the uninhabited island of Hon Ong, some 40 kilometres off the coast. He explained that it was a routine annual training exercise involving various types of artillery and other weapons, but that no missiles would be fired. A second drill lasting five hours was scheduled for the evening. “It has nothing to do with the recent incidents involving China,” he said.

    The drill comes after Hanoi and Beijing exchanged heated jabs over two recent incidents involving Vietnamese-operated oil and gas exploration vessels in the fish- and energy-rich waters around the Spratly and Paracel Islands, claimed by both countries. China, Vietnam and other regional powers have staked claims to parts of the sea and its underwater resources.

    Energy and mineral-hungry China is the leading contender, making claims that far exceed its maritime borders and what international law would allow.

    Chinese media have slammed Vietnam for its action, calling it a show of force meant to challenge Beijing.

    In Vietnam, anti-Chinese protests have erupted (pictured) in the capital. Yesterday, like the Sunday before, demonstrators were held in front of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi. More than 100 people waved flags, sang patriotic songs and chanted ‘Down with China’ and ‘The Spratlys and Paracels belong to Vietnam’.

    Vietnamese authorities tolerated the anti-China protests. Police told protesters to leave after about 20 minutes but let them march around Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of the city.

    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 hegemony that would enable it to control 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

    15/06/2011 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.

    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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