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    » 08/06/2012, 00.00

    CHINA - US – VIETNAM

    War of words between Beijing and Washington over South China Sea



    Beijing summons the US Embassy's deputy head of mission to protest US "manipulation" of the facts and "interference" in China's affairs. A few days ago, US officials had criticised China's decision to set up a military garrison on the Paracel Islands. Hanoi arrests 50 demonstrators for protesting against Chinese "imperialism".

    Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China summoned the number two diplomat at the US Embassy in Beijing to protest recent US government statements on the South China Sea. A few days ago, Washington criticised China's decision to build a military garrison at the town of Sansha, which it set up in June on Woody Island in the Paracels in order to assert its control in the Asia-Pacific region. For now, the two sides are only trading words, but tensions are high.

    A few weeks ago, China established the city on the remote island and is now planning to militarise it in an area that is contended by both Vietnam and the Philippines. Hanoi and Manila, a US ally, protested the move.

    "We are concerned by the increase in tensions in the South China Sea," US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in the statement Friday, due to China's actions in Sansha, which run "counter to collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolve differences".

    Beijing responded immediately. Over the weekend, Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng called in the US Embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Wang, saying the State Department statement "sent a seriously wrong message" on the South China Sea. The US statement "ignores facts and deliberately confuses right and wrong," interferes "in the internal affairs of China, and reflects the US ambition of manipulating Asian affairs".

    For its part, in a no holds barred editorial, the mouthpiece of the People's Daily told Washington to "shut up".

    Meanwhile, in Hanoi, the government continues to crack down on anti-Chinese protests by Vietnamese patriots and nationalists. Police yesterday arrested 50 people in the capital as they protested against Beijing. Arrests were made before and after the demonstration, four well-known bloggers and an activist were among those detained.

    Vietnam's Communist government remains ambiguous towards China, officially against Beijing's imperialist policies, but equally opposed to domestic nationalist demonstrations.

    In the South China Sea China, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, Philippines and Malaysia are vying for control of potentially oil-rich Spratly and Paracel Islands.

    Manila and Hanoi accuse Beijing of pursing aggressive and "imperialist" policies, which have led to clashes involving fishing boats from all three nations.

    Tensions between Manila and Beijing went up a notch in April when Chinese patrol boats stopped Filipino Navy ships off the Scarborough Shoal from pursuing Chinese fishing trawlers that had crossed into Filipino waters.

    Beijing's hegemonic goals are a source of concern for the United States, which has boosted its naval presence in the Pacific.

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    See also

    28/06/2012 ASIA - UNITED STATES
    South China Sea, tension between Manila, Hanoi and Beijing. A code of conduct useless
    By July a new draft of the code should regulate territorial claims in the Asian-Pacific area. But according to experts it will be ineffective. A Vietnamese scholar urges ASEAN countries to form a common front in opposition to China. Beijing continues its "imperialist" policy in the area.

    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.

    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.

    09/11/2010 CHINA – UNITED STATES
    Sino-US tensions rise on the eve of G20 summit
    China criticises US monetary policy, which it deems inflationary and of no use to solve domestic US problems. It calls for a stable exchange for the US dollar, as the world’s reference currency. Sino-US confrontation is up, ranging from economic to military issues.

    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.



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