02/18/2019, 14.55
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Vietnamese write to Trump asking for help against Chinese expansionism

by Paul Tran Hung

The second summit between US president and Kim Jong-un is set for 27-28 February in Hanoi. The North Korean leader will arrive in Vietnam next Monday and will meet Vietnamese President and Communist Party leader Nguyễn Phú Trọng. Vietnam is committed to greater cooperation with North Korea and supports peace efforts in the Korean Peninsula.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Vietnamese at home and abroad are signing a letter to be sent to Trump, warning against the threat of Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea.

They hope that the second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald J. Trump will provide an opportunity to bring the issue to the attention of the international community. The historic meeting is scheduled for 27 and 28 February in Hanoi.

The signatories of the letter, which focuses on ‘The important events that have been happened in Vietnam and the East (South China) Sea since 1974’, hope that the president will defend freedom of navigation, international law and the sovereignty of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The letter notes that yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Sino-Vietnamese War (17 February-16 March 1979). Although brief, the conflict cost the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians. The war started with China’s invasion of six Vietnamese border provinces and ended with the withdrawal of Chinese troops.

Anti-Chinese feeling remain strong and widespread among Vietnamese, reinforced by recent territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Taking advantage of the ambiguities of international law, China claims almost 85 per cent of the sea.

Disputes involve the Spratly Islands, which are claimed by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam; the Gulf of Tonkin, claimed by Vietnam and China; the Paracel Islands, claimed by Vietnam, China and Taiwan; and the Scarborough Shoal, claimed by the Philippines, China and Taiwan.

For China, the goal is to control key maritime routes through which one third of world trade flows, as well as the energy resources found on the seabed.

For this reason, it started the construction of a series of artificial islands (seven in the Spratly), with military installations and a lighthouse, and imposed unilateral fishing restrictions, harming thousands of Vietnamese fishermen.

Finally, the Chinese government claims sovereignty over large sections of Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.

In Vietnam, people are looking forward to the meeting between Kim and Trump. Local media report that the North Korean leader will arrive in Vietnam as early as 25 February where he will meet with Vietnamese President and Communist Party secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng.

Kim and the North Korean delegation from Pyongyang will have the opportunity to study the Vietnamese "economic model" and visit some industrial plants.

Led by Kim Chang-son, Kim Jong-un’s de facto chief of staff, the 12-member North Korean delegation arrived in Vietnam on Saturday to prepare their leader’s two summits.

This followed the visit to North Korea (12-14 February) by Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh who met with his North Korean counterpart, with whom he promised "to share the Vietnamese experience of nation-building, socio-economic development and international integration".

Vietnam also pledged to boost cooperation with North Korea and support efforts to ensure peace, security and stability on the Korean peninsula.

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