Home / Culture and Society / Encounters in the South China Sea Taking a Turn for the Worse

Encounters in the South China Sea Taking a Turn for the Worse

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The Issues between China and the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regarding the vessels of the countries operating in the now contested regions of the South China Sea have heated considerably and now involve the United States.

South China Sea mapAs I reported last weekthe Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs sent a message to the Chinese embassy on June 2, 2011, protesting activities of Chinese vessels, citing repeated incidents of Chinese aircraft and naval vessels entering Philippine territory and taking provocative acts, including the use of naval gunfire, against unarmed fishing vessels.

Then, on Sunday, June 05, Vietnamese students and other young people demonstrated near the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi carrying signs reading, “Stop Chinese Invasion of Vietnam’s Islands.” Demonstrators sang the Vietnamese national anthem as they marched through the streets of the Vietnamese capital city. The specific charge, that on May 26, China destroyed a cable on a Vietnamese state owned boat, representing PetroVietnam, and doing seismic research.

On June 9, in the second incident involving ship cables, a net from a Chinese fishing boat became entangled in the cables of a Vietnamese oil exploring vessel. That vessel dragged the Chinese fishermen for in excess of one hour, until the Chinese cut the net. Prior to the entanglement, according to the crew of the Vietnamese vessel, the fishing boat “intentionally rammed” the Vietnamese ship in a premeditated and carefully calculated attack.

China saw the incident differently; the Chinese accused Vietnam of “gravely violating” its sovereignty, and endangering Chinese lives. China went on to warn Vietnam to stop all “invasive activities”.

In recent months China has complained about activities of U.S. military vessels in China’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), defined as a seazone extending out to 200 miles from a national coast or continental shelf. It is a zone wherein the state has special rights over exploration and the use of marine resources. China, on the currently escalating issue of sovereignty over the entire South China Sea region, has expressed anger about U.S.vessel activity which, China says, is by no means innocent of violating rules regulating such behavior. Sovereignty is an important issue involving anticipated deposits of oil and gas.

According to the Singapore Defense Ministry, the Unites States is expected to deploy one or two Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), each with a crew of about 25. Those ships will call on ports in the region and initiate exercises and exchanges with the various navies. The waters near Australia are also included in the U.S.area of oversight.

On June 4, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates vowed that the U.S. would maintain a “robust presence” across Asia, that presence to include new shallow water high-tech LCS weaponry. Gates states that the United States is dedicated to the protection ofLCS weaponry
American allies, and to the safety of shipping lanes. The shipping lanes near U.S. ally Singapore are among the busiest in the world. China is loudly complaining of “encirclement and interference” by the U.S. in matters that “do not concern it”.

The Chinese Embassy has been quite outspoken.  A report from that embassy on March 13 had to do with protests from the United States White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon, that on March 9, China’s ships harassed a U.S. Navy Surveillance vessel, The Impeccable, in international waters in the South China Sea. China called the report untrue and unacceptable. They cite the premises of the EEZ and charged that The Impeccable of engaging in activities within the 200 mile limit off China’s coast without permission. They urged the U.S. to take effective measure to prevent recurrence of similar incidents.

In August of 2010, Indonesia’s Dewi Fortuna Anwar, a research professor at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, mentioned that the ASEAN is aware of the “Inherent promises and dangers” that China presents and believes the best course in dealing with China is to “engage and integrate it fully into the regional order.” In an odd switch and exchange, Jakarta is the chair of ASEAN this year.

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • China Lee

    Vietnamese and Filipinos should stop encroaching on thousand-year-old Chinese territory in the South China Sea.

    “The coast belonged to the Kingdom of Cauchi China.”


    * There are some Chinese cultural relics in the Paracel islands dating from the Tang and Song dynasty eras[12][note 1], and there is some evidence of Chinese habitation on the islands in these periods.[13].”

  • John Lake

    These other nations also have rights. Most of the world sees these rights as given by a divine creator, or being based on a high regard for life.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    China Lee – who is probably another one of the Chinese who show up whenever anything critical of China is said – is ignoring the fact that Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia all are significantly closer to the Spratly Islands, and so in the eyes of a fair judge should have a strongly claim than China.

    But this was never about fairness, was it?

  • Well, Glenn, no. Not that geographical proximity has much to do with these things.

    But judging by the map I saw the other day, if China gets its way its territorial waters extend so far that a holidaymaker taking a paddle on a beach in Sarawak would be in danger of getting arrested for border incursion.

  • Cannonshop

    It’s about the same things it’s always been about-who can hold it, and does the west care enough about the matter to get involved.

  • China Lee

    Dummies’ guide to South China Sea sovereignty:

    Who discovered Spratly and Paracel Islands a thousand years ago? China
    The human remains of which country are found on South China Sea islands? China
    The artifacts of which country are found on South China Sea islands? China
    Which country has claimed South China Sea islands throughout dynasties? China
    Vietnam Premier Pham Van Dong admitted which country owns South China Sea territory in a diplomatic document? China

    This issue is crystal clear. China has sovereignty over South China Sea for a thousand years.


    @Glenn According to your simplistic theory of physical proximity and disregarding historical discovery, Falkland Islands belong to Argentina. I bet you never complained about British sovereignty over the Falklands. Am I right?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc and ‘China Lee’

    Good point. I cannot argue against it.

    That said, in another thread I argued that if Vietnam, the Philippines and the other smaller nations were wise, they’d offer to give up their claims on the Spratlys in exchange for a significant amount of money…and then rush to be the first to provide logistical support to the Chinese industry that will need food, fuel, and manpower support in those areas.

    There’s a time for national pride…and there’s also a time for pragmatism. This is the time for the latter.

  • Obama

    To China Lee
    UNCLOS 1982 was signed by China. China has to obey international law. China has no legitimacy to the entire China Sea. For China to use “chingchong” history as its reason to claim, then China needs to give Vietnam back Guangdong because that used to be ruled by the BaiYeu (Vietnam).

  • HackYourAss

    Chinese documents are FAKE! Their documents have been cut and pasted to support their greedy ambitions. IF you don’t believe me, look at their so so famous character such as Fake melamine milk which kills children, Fake Toys wtih LEAD that kills children, Fake Egg, Fake Rice, Fake Wine, etc… The list goes on.

    If you don’t believe me, you will see all the chinese spies which ate Bun filled with cardboard for breakfast cyber snooping. Don’t mess with NAM!

  • Peter

    CHinese documents are fakes? How about maps from early 20th century Japan, US, France, Vietnam, etc..? Even France, before taking over the islands in the 19th century noted Chinese are living on the islands.

    How about international records that indicated in the 50’s, both Vietnam and Philippine leaders both agreed that China is the owner of the islands?

    Old Chinese documents, old maps, old artifacts cannot all be fake unless you closed your mind already

  • Matias

    britishs want to turn malvinas into a military fortress, why do the british want that when South America is the most peacefully place in the world?? because they want to take control of everything, they have middle atlantic islands, pacific islands and they want to have malvians to enter to Antartida, british as the americans are so predictable, they want natural resources they dont care about the kelpers.

  • Well, isn’t this jolly?

    What do you think, regulars? Shall we sit back and let the Chinese, Vietnamese and Argentine government shills fight amongst themselves?

    Or is it more fun to join in?

  • There are better venues, Doc. These chaps aren’t any fun.