RED DRAGON – RED CHINA – POWER-HUNGRY
Red China’s Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong formulated his plan for creation of Evil Red Empire because of his insatiable desire for power and influence over the lives of all other nations in Southeast Asia.
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Analysis: South China Sea dispute pits power-hungry China against weaker regional neighbours
By South-East Asia correspondent SAMANTHA HAWLEY
Updated June 21, 2014 11:53:05
The dispute over the South China Sea pits China against its smaller, weaker regional neighbours.
Vietnam is one of them, and right now there is a concerning flash point that could have deep, significant implications for the region.
Around Vietnam you find propaganda billboards denouncing China’s actions after it built a billion-dollar oil rig about 200 nautical miles off the Vietnamese coast.
It is condemnation that spilled out onto the streets in the most significant protests seen in the one-party state for many years.
Chinese nationals were forced to flee the country as their businesses were burned to the ground. Beijing says at least four of its nationals were killed.
The oil rig sits about 30 kilometres south of the Paracel Islands, which China says it has irrefutable sovereignty over, along with the Spratly Islands to south.
Vietnam says the islands and the seas around them belong to it, and so the two communist nations are now in the depths of the most serious deterioration of relations since the 1970s.
Vietnam is accusing China of bullying tactics as it tries to force its ships out of the area; China says its smaller neighbour is taunting it, and Beijing has warned its tolerance is low.
In one case Vietnam says a fishing boat was sunk after being rammed by the Chinese.
Beijing rejects the allegation, and accuses Vietnam of sabotage.
China says its boats have been rammed by Vietnam more than 1,000 times and has now gone to the United Nations to try to have the case heard.
Vietnam says there are almost 120 Chinese ships stationed around the oil rig, including warships, but says it will not send military assets to the disputed seas.
It does not want to provoke unwanted hostility from Beijing.
Is China’s stance more a show of strength than oil drilling exercise?
There is a question mark over whether China is actually drilling for oil, or even if there is oil below the sea bed, or whether this is much more about military positioning and a show of strength.
Vietnam has the support of the Philippines, which has its own territorial dispute with China.
Troops from the two nations recently gathered on one of the contested islands to play a game of volleyball, a move condemned by China.
Beijing says Vietnam has been forcibly and illegally disrupting operations on the rig.
Several other countries have territorial claims over the waters, including Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.
China claims to have sovereignty over more than 90 per cent of the resource-rich ocean.
Taking a journey close to the Chinese oil rig, you see first-hand the very real tensions at sea.
According to the Vietnamese, just 10 of its coast guard boats are now stationed in the area. One of them is the Coast Guard ship 8003.
With about 40 crew on board, it has been patrolling waters adjacent to the oil rig since May.
Twice a day it ventures closer to within eight nautical miles of the rig and via loudspeaker warns China it is breaching Vietnamese sovereignty and breaking international law and orders them to leave.
In turn, the Chinese chase the ships out of the area, in what looks like a bullfight at sea.
An up-close observation of the tensions provides an appreciation of a maritime power play where the most powerful nation is winning. And it’s not Vietnam.
Vietnam, China, Malaysia have eyes on the prize
Explore the conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea
cell-slides Rich in resources and traversed by a quarter of global shipping, the South China Sea is the stage for several territorial disputes that threaten to escalate tensions in the region.At the heart of these disputes are a series of barren islands in two groups – the Spratly Islands, off the coast of the Philippines, and the Paracel Islands, off the coasts of Vietnam and China. Both chains are essentially uninhabitable, but are claimed by no fewer than seven countries, eager to gain control of the vast oil and gas fields below them, as well as some of the region’s best fishing grounds.Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei have made claims to part of the Spratlys based on the internationally recognised Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which extends 200 hundred nautical miles from a country’s coastline. Based on the EEZ, the Philippines has the strongest claim on the Spratlys and their resources, with its EEZ covering much of the area. However the lure of resources, and prospect of exerting greater control over shipping in the region, means that greater powers are contesting the Philippines’ claims. China has made extensive sovereignty claims on both the Spratlys and the Paracels to the north, based largely on historic claims outlined in a map from the middle part of the 20th Century known as the ‘Nine Dash Map’.Taiwan also makes claims based on the same map, as it was created by the nationalist Kuomintang government, which fled to Taiwan after the communists seized power in China. Vietnam also claims the Spratlys and the Paracels as sovereign territory, extending Vietnam’s EEZ across much of the region and bringing it into direct conflict with China.There have been deadly protests in Vietnam over China’s decision to build an oil rig off the Paracels.One Chinese worker in Vietnam was killed and a dozen injured in riots targeting Chinese and Taiwanese owned factories, prompting 3,000 Chinese nationals to flee the country. EEZ can only be imposed based on boundaries of inhabitable land, and this has prompted all the countries making claims on the region to station personnel, and in some cases build military bases out of the water, to bolster their claim.Building and protecting these structures has resulted in a series of stand-offs between countries in the region, each with the potential to escalate.China has been leading the charge with these installations, and has deployed vessels to the region to protect their interests. Chinese coast guard vessels have used a water cannon on Vietnamese vessels, as well as blockading an island where the Philippines has deployed military personnel.
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