Le The Mau, former chief of the scientific information division under the Ministry of National Defense's Institute of Military Strategies, says China is acting against its stated commitments to peace and friendship as it tries to realize its ambition of taking over the East Sea as a whole.
From the time of its first leadership, China has always thought about dominating the East Sea (South China Sea). It has targeted that sooner or later it will take it; what matters is when.
Over the years, China has maintained a peaceful and stable environment to develop its economy and has always tried to build up a good image. However, while waiting for a good opportunity, it continued to implement in secret its strategies related to the East Sea. And now it seems to believe that it is strong enough to play the role of a big country.
It is not only racing to develop military bases in the East Sea, but also deeply violating the exclusive economic zones. Of course, China can't conduct its schemes immediately, but has to escalate matters step by step towards the target. What they are doing is aimed at generating publicity, turning an area without disputes into a disputed one, and illogically applying the "U-shaped" line (which has been added by China to its maps to claim to over 80 percent of the East Sea.)
GAINS AND LOSSES
In an interview with Thanh Nien, Prof. Vladimir N. Kolotov, Director of Far East History Department, St. Petersburg State University, said recent incidents mark the beginning of China's scheme to dominate the East Sea.
China is continuously putting pressures on Vietnam, the Philippines and some other neighboring countries, and these actions are destroying the region's stability and security, Kolotov said.
According to international law, China has no right to control the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagoes, but they trying to enforce such illegal rights, he said.
However, the plan will also bring several disadvantages to China, because ASEAN countries, including Vietnam, which are being bullied by China, will obviously join hands to create a coalition, and will cooperate with the third parties like the US and Russia, Kolotov said.
Furthermore, such incidents will cause China to lose the prestige it had built up over the last ten years in ASEAN, the scholar said.
Although China wants to have the natural resources of the East Sea and control one of the world's most important sea transportation routes, it has not yet been able to do so.
China's military force is stronger than those of ASEAN countries, but in comparison with other militarily strong countries like the US and its allies, it pales into insignificance, according to Kolotov.
He said at the moment the US probably won't directly interfere in the East Sea. But, if there is a threat to region's security and stability, it will pose a critical risk to the US's relationship with South Korea and Japan, not to mention the impact on a major marine transportation route.
Meanwhile, in the face of China publicly causing pressure on ASEAN members, they need to be cautious about each step that the country takes, and cooperate with one another to form coalitions, Kolotov said.
(Reported by Nguyen Phong)
After cutting the cables of the Binh Minh No.02 ship on May 26, China claimed that it had conducted patrolling activities and enforced laws normally within waters under its jurisdiction. After harassing the Viking II, China also made false claims that Vietnamese armed ships had chased away their fishing boats, posing critical risks to Chinese fishermen's safety.
Such actions and claims by China have been considered as "carrying fire in one hand and water in the other." Major international press and news agencies like AFP, Reuters, BBC, and Financial Times have all said China is making moves that have never been made before, further complicating the East Sea situation.
But, one thing is certain: China has never changed its tactics.
For a long time, China has kept harping its "peaceful rise" (its foreign policy approach in the early 21st century, aiming to present China as a responsible world leader with commitment to avoiding unnecessary international confrontation). But, recent incidents have exposed that behind such rhetoric is its ambition to control the East Sea.
On the one hand, it espouses policies of peace and friendship, and on the other, it takes provocative and and pressurizing actions that totally belie such claims. And China has applied this tactic not only for the East Sea but also to neighboring countries.
In fact, although it has already signed border agreements with Russia, China still caused disturbance at Russia's Far East Siberia area. When Russia protested, China claimed that lower level agencies had acted in violation of stated policies.
While Vietnam as well as neighboring countries have always pursued peaceful policies of improving its friendship with China, the latter has promoted its illegal sovereignty, including over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagoes, in many different ways over years.
Even when it was not engaging in provocative acts as now, China has propagated among its own people the notion that the South China Sea (the East Sea) belongs to China and has been taken by other countries; "that its good intention of maintaining peace in the East Sea has been abused by foreign countries"¦" On the Chinese cyber network there are many articles full of hatred calling for violence against neighboring countries as also over East Sea issues.
After the recent incidents, Vietnam and ASEAN need to strongly voice criticisms of China's actions and policies. It is necessary to generate widespread publicity inside and outside the country, and
to use international forums to make the international community understand China's plan to occupy the East Sea.