Archive for South China Sea

President Trump Just Approved Plan for U.S. Navy’s Increased Flexibility in the South China Sea, Which is Great

Posted in Opinions, Politics with tags , , , , , on July 22, 2017 by Ian Pham

Donald Trump, South China Sea(Sunday Express)

Yes, I fully support this move, for obvious reasons.

It’s no secret my views on China. The rude, disrespectful, and uncivil conduct on the international stage, the constant blatant violations of international law, the groveling, whining, and playing the victim when they get caught and called out for expansionism, espionage, and encroaching on other nations’ sovereignties, and so much more. Plus, China is a totalitarian dictatorship that kidnaps, terrorizes, and murders anyone who speaks out against the Chinese government’s crimes against humanity. And, there’s also the little matter of them evidently trying to invade Vietnam, doing so by currently destroying Vietnam’s environment including forests, highlands, coastal waters, etc., killing off Vietnam’s food supply, poisoning Vietnam’s water supply, sending in staggering numbers of undocumented Chinese “workers,” and many more things beyond the scope of this article. There’s also that. So, yes, I am not a fan of China.

China is a threat to international stability and peace, and is, by these measures, a threat to the free world and liberal democracies everywhere.

For this reason, I argue that U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent approval of a plan that allows the U.S. Navy more flexibility to act and react to happenings in the South China Sea is a very, very good thing.

As reported by The Times of India:

US President Donald Trump approved a plan giving the country’s navy greater freedom in operating in the South China Sea and put pressure on China’s efforts to enlarge its military presence by artificially building reefs and atolls in the area.

The move is seen as a challenge to Beijing’s maritime claims over most of the South China Sea and its attempts to overrule overlapping claims by five other countries, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines.

The US move will keep China’s expanding navy busy in the South China Sea and make it difficult for Beijing to deal with its territorial disputes with other countries such as India and Japan…

The new plan, which was submitted by US defence secretary Jim Mattis, involves a full-year schedule of when US navy ships will sail through contested waters.

It seems that under the new U.S. president, China will no longer be able to freely violate international law, throw its weight around without consequence, and make a mockery of international cooperation in a shamefully belittling way that only China is capable of doing.

As per usual, China is employing their time-tested strategy of playing the victim and complaining vociferously while at the same time ignoring all claims and evidence of their wrongdoing.

According to Business Insider:

China has responded forcefully to US incursions into the region, telling the US the moves were provocative and that they must ask permission, which doesn’t align with international law or UN conventions.

“China’s military will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and regional peace and stability,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in response to US bombers flying in the region.

While at the same time (ibid)…

Over the last few years, China has ambitiously built up islands on reefs and atolls in the South China Sea and militarized them with radar outposts, military-grade runways, and shelters for missile defenses.

Military analysts believe China hopes to expand its air defense and identification zone into the western Pacific and build a blue-water navy to rival the US’s, but six other countries also lay claim to parts of the region.

Seriously, how stupid does China think the rest of the world is?

You remember in elementary school, there was that kid who tried to steal your chocolate milk on the playground, but then ran away crying and snitching to the teacher after you got up and broke his nose? That kid is China. China is the crying snitch with the broken nose.

Always plotting, stealing, and sabotaging other nations, then playing the victim when they get caught or called out. That’s China. Pathetic.

I’m glad the United States is finally doing something about this China problem.

I know a lot of you may not be the biggest fans of President Trump (myself included at times), but when he does something right, credit is given where credit is due.

Get ready, East Asia, because America is back.

Chinese Officials Overplay Hand at Hanoi Meeting, Get Sent Home Early

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , on June 25, 2017 by Ian Pham

South China Sea(Voice of America)

It’s not that impressive, but when you remember that these are the Vietnamese communists we’re talking about, it’s kind of a big deal. Still not that great, though, by the standards of non-garbage nations.

In a nutshell, some Chinese representatives said some things to their Vietnamese hosts in a recent meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city. The hosts didn’t take kindly to the words of their Chinese guests, and as a result, the visitors were sent packing early.

This is newsworthy because it is very uncharacteristic of the Vietnamese communist government to ever show any type of backbone when talking with the Chinese. It’s usually a “yes sir, thank you sir,” and sometimes a “sorry sir,” on the parts of the Vietnamese communists to their Chinese overlords, with the two sides then going on public record saying that “great progress” has been made in “the talks” for “ensuring stability in the region.” In reality, behind these empty cliched words, it’s just China telling their VCP lapdogs what to do next, and the communists in Hanoi nodding their heads in agreement and obedience.

The fact that this is not the case this time, and that someone in the VCP actually had the guts to ask the Chinese to leave is something of a news story for Vietnamese geopolitics in the current era of communist rule.

Below are further details of the Chinese delegation’s early-cancelled trip in Vietnam.

According to Voice of America, Vietnamese edition, Chinese general Fan Changlong and a squad of Chinese military officials came to Vietnam this week to meet with high-ranking members of the Vietnamese Communist Party.

The meeting, officially deemed a continuation of the annual “border defense friendship exchange program,” was supposed to last from June 20-22, but was promptly cancelled due to “private disagreements” that were not specified by either side, according to The Diplomat.

Officially, the Chinese government cite “working arrangements” as reasons for the shortened visit, The New York Times claims. However, analysts believe that deeper issues are afoot.

Reports claim that China appears to be angry with Vietnam for developing closer ties to Japan and the United States. These two nations are both viewed with suspicion and envy by the Chinese. Vietnam’s increased cooperation with these countries is likely interpreted by the Chinese as an affront to their own influence in the region.

Furthermore, Caty Weaver cites government sources claiming that “discussions about the disputed South China Sea” may be the cause of Fan’s shortened visit to Vietnam. Similarly, it is reported by The New York Times that the Chinese representatives’ trip was “unexpectedly cut short… after tempers flared during a closed-door discussion on disputed territories in the South China Sea.”

In response to Vietnam’s surprisingly tougher than usual reaction, China has deployed 40 naval vessels, as well as some military aircraft within Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Even before Fan’s visit, Beijing moved their infamous Haiyang 981 oil rig back into Vietnam’s EEZ, most likely as a tactic of intimidation to let the communist Vietnamese know that their granddaddy China was on the way.

Analysts assert that possible reasons for China’s extra assertiveness at this time is opportunism due to “the loss of ASEAN momentum in the South China Sea,” and what appears to be “a distracted United States” in the region. Currently, there is much uncertainty regarding President Trump’s policies in the Pacific, and so the Chinese are trying to capitalize on this opportunity and expand their military and geopolitical position.

Increased pressure on Hanoi in the recent meeting is thus simply a continuation of China’s attempt to better its influence in the Pacific. Unfortunately for the Chinese, they pushed too hard this time in their “discussions” with the communist Vietnamese. For whatever reason, Hanoi finally snapped and bit back at Beijing’s bullying tactics.

As a result, China is now embarrassed at the debacle, an event exemplified by their General Fan “voluntarily” leaving Vietnam earlier than scheduled. To “save face,” the Chinese government is currently lashing out by sending ships and planes in a show of “strength” along Vietnam’s coast.

Thus far, it is unclear in the short term whether the situation in the South China Sea will simmer down or escalate. Time will tell.

Vietnam’s Role, and Leverage in the Southeast Asia Sea

Posted in IV. Columns, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by Ian Pham

This past Sunday, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta paid a visit to Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay, a major U.S. base used during the Vietnam War.  The visit yielded agreements between the U.S. and Vietnam to open restricted military sites in Vietnam that would permit searches for MIA soldiers of the war.  Behind these agreements however, is the continuation of a deeper goal, the further normalization of relations between two former enemies.

As of today, Panetta is the most senior American official to visit Cam Ranh Bay.  Not only does this visit signify the developing ties between the two sides, it also signifies America’s national interests in Vietnam as a key player in the Southeast Asia Sea.  According to American analysts, Vietnam currently holds a decisive role in shaping the balance of power in the Southeast Asia Sea.  The Center for a New American Security professes that Vietnam is arguably the pivotal player, or “swing-state” for what happens in the sea.  If Vietnam fails to step up to an increasingly assertive China, smaller countries like the Philippines have little chance of resisting.

These insights paint a vivid picture of Vietnam’s potential in dealing with Chinese hegemony.  Of the many countries in Asia at this point in time, Vietnam remains the key obstacle against Chinese expansionism.  As a result, the U.S. continues to pursue better relations with the country.  Unfortunately, these warming relations comes at the cost of human rights in Vietnam.  To keep Vietnam from running into the arms of the Chinese, the United States must turn a blind eye to the atrocious human rights record of Vietnam.  This is the American dilemma.  In order to keep U.S.-Vietnam relations on the right track, the United States is forced to soften its stance on human rights.

Nonetheless, this reality outlines the importance of Vietnam’s role in dealing with Chinese hegemony in the South China Sea.  Vietnam can very well be the difference maker in China’s success or failure in this territorial dispute, and has the power to counter China’s influence in Southeast Asia.  America understands this, and Vietnam understands this.  This is one major reason why the two countries have become so close in recent years, with an increasingly nervous and aggressive China on the periphery.  Though the human rights abuses continue to cause friction between Vietnam and the U.S., the China issue continues to bring the two closer together.

Standing One’s Ground… In the Sea

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , on May 24, 2012 by Ian Pham

Tensions have been flaring between the Philippines and China over a topic we know all too well: sovereignty in the Southeast Asia Sea.  As China continues to pursue its rapacious claims over the entire sea in Southeast Asia, one country has stepped up to challenge the Asian giant’s “indisputable” claims of “indisputable” sovereignty, which, along with every other claim China is making, are “indisputable.”  This gutsy contestation comes from China’s little neighbor to the east, the Philippines.

The incident began in early April, when Filippino authorities spotted eight Chinese naval vessels stationed near the Philippines’ Scarborough Shoal.  What followed was a four day standoff between the Philippines and China near Filippino territory, from the identification of the Chinese ships on 6 April 2012, to the near detainment of these vessels on 10 April 2012.  To this day, the diplomatic crisis between China and the Philippines remains unresolved, as neither country shows any sign of backing down.

China’s government and state-run media agencies continue to threaten the Philippines with economic and military retribution if the country continues to resist the assertions of the PRC.  China has increased, and continues to increase, the number of military vessels deployed near the disputed Scarborough islands, which the Chinese call Huangyan.  Tourism from China to the Philippines have been blocked, and the Chinese Embassy in Manila continues to accuse the Philippines of violating China’s “indisputable” sovereignty.

Meanwhile, the Filippino people have gathered in protest outside of the Chinese embassy, sending their message to the Chinese government.  They carry with them signs saying “Stop Chinese Aggression Now!”, “China Back Off!”, and the like.  The Philippines government has also taken a tough stance against the PRC, standing by their people in the face of Chinese aggression.  The country has made military purchases in preparation of armed conflict with the PRC.  Weapons have been purchased from the U.S., with further transactions planned with Japan and South Korea.

Even with these new military expenditures however, the Philippines will still be no match for China in terms of military capability.  The People’s Republic of China exponentially dwarfs the Philippines in military spending.  Materially, the Philippines does not stand a chance against China, the giant to the west.  That being said, the Philippines has taken the necessary steps to defend the rights of their people.  Though they are outclassed and outnumbered, the Philippines refuse to bow down to the demands of a foreign bully, putting them leaps and bounds above the Communists in Vietnam.

Unlike the Communists in Vietnam, who refuse to stand up to the terrorist activities of the Chinese navy, the Philippines is not afraid to speak out.  When the Chinese military kidnapped and terrorized the fishermen of Vietnam, the VCP remained silent on the matter for months at a time.  Any attempt by the people of Vietnam to stand up for their fellow Vietnamese were met with heavy repression by the Communist Party in Vietnam.  Even the brief protests permitted by the Vietnamese government last summer have been quashed for fear of a vengeful PRC.  Put simply, Filippino President Benigno Aquino has resoundingly accomplished what Nguyen Tan Dung was too cowardly to follow though with.

China may be stronger than the Philippines for the time being, but the Philippines has the world on its side.  The Filippino people are fully in support of their government in defence against China, and continue to do so with no hesitation.  Furthermore, the basis of the Philippines arguments are based on international law, which follow the guidelines of the international community.  China’s rebuttal of “indisputable” historical claims remain to be proven, with the recurring term “indisputable” as their only source of defence.  As long as the Philippines stays firm in defence of its people, China will have a very difficult time in Southeast Asia.

Finally, the Vietnamese Government Lay Claims to Paracel and Spratly

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , on December 2, 2011 by Ian Pham

After months of beating around the bush, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has finally released an official claim to the Paracal and Spratly Islands.  Vietnam was the formal the occupier of the Paracel and Spratly Islands since the 18th and 19th centuries, until the Chinese invaded Paracel in 1974, and Spratly in 1988.  The Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam was the first country to explore and occupy these islands, becoming the sole patron of both Spratly and Paracel for nearly two centuries.  In the 1950’s onward, the Republic of Vietnam held the islands.

Nguyen Tan Dung has formally declared that Paracel and Spratly belong to Vietnam, and has stated that he is willing to use military force to defend the islands from China.  According to Bloomberg News, the Prime Minister is also looking to establish talks regarding the Chinese occupation of Paracel which, as mentioned above, once belonged to Vietnam, and, in legal terms, still belongs to Vietnam.  The Chinese acquisition of Paracel and the current pieces of Spratly are illegal, and still does not constitute as Chinese territory under international law.  Though the PRC holds the islands formally, their rule is illegitimate, and is contestable by Vietnam with historical evidence (and with some help from the military).

The Vietnamese government has announced that they will support the patriotism of the Vietnamese people, so long as that is all the people project.  In other words, the people of Vietnam are free to demonstrate against China, but if their is ever a hint of calls for democratization, the government will shut it down by force.  The official announcement by PM Nguyen Tan Dung on Paracel and Spratly is definitely positive for the country, though it has been long overdue.  There is so much more that the Vietnamese people need, and if the government wants to know what that is, they might want to take a look at Burma.

Chinese Vessel, In Vietnamese Waters, Rammed by Vietnamese Ship (Footage)

Posted in Politics, Videos with tags , , on November 13, 2011 by Ian Pham

The following video shows how a Chinese ship, while trekking into Vietnamese territory, gets pursued by the Vietnamese coastguard, warned, and subsequently rammed by the Vietnamese ship.  There was some skepticism at first on whether this video is authentic or not, but after some careful deliberation, it is more likely than not that this footage is real.  The Vietnamese did chase after a Chinese boat, this is their footage.

I’ll say right off the bat that the Vietnamese are probably the aggressors in this video, as they were the ones to chase down and collide with the Chinese ship.  However, to what extent can we call the Vietnamese the aggressors?  After all, this is just a response to what the Chinese have been doing for years now.  For the longest time, the Chinese have been committing these rimes with no response by the Vietnamese Communists at all.  Furthermore, the Chinese not only rammed the Vietnamese boats, but went as far as to confiscate, kidnap, and murder the civilians on board as well.

This is just a kind response from the Vietnamese government to Beijing, one that has been long overdue.  For too long, the government in Hanoi has remained silent about China and the piracy that they have been committing.  From the looks of things, the new leaders of Vietnam’s Communist Party are less tolerant of China’s belligerence and bullying tactics.  They are willing to call the Chinese out on the crimes they have been committing, which puts them above their predecessors.  However, they are still totalitarians, they are still corrupted, so they are still not that great.

In the Southeast Asia Sea, a Chinese Warning to an Indian Vessel

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , on September 2, 2011 by Ian Pham

Beijing has found yet another competitor to its claims in the South China Sea.  This time, the recipient of its aggressive antics is India, China’s large neighbour to the southwest. During its friendly visit to Vietnam, the Indian naval vessel INS Airavat received a radio signal from someone who claimed to be from the Chinese Navy.  Officials in India have said that the man on the radio sent a warning to the Indian vessel, claiming that they were entering “Chinese waters,” demanding identification and an explanation from the vessel for its presence in the area.

Although the act did not spark a military confrontation between China and India, it clearly signifies China’s assertive claims over these open waters. Like other nations, India believes in freedom of navigation through these waters, in accordance to the guidelines of international law.  China however, rejects the agreements and guidelines set by international law and UNCLOS, exerting their claims to the entire Sea of Southeast Asia.

It would be interesting to note that the INS Airavat did not even trek toward Chinese waters.  The Indian vessel was navigating off the coast of Vietnam, 45 nautical miles off the port of Nha Trang, heading to Hai Phong for a port call.  Judging by what is shown, it would be fair to argue that although the Chinese sent the signal to the Indian vessel, it was also intended as a shot towards the Vietnamese.  This incident took place on July 22, 2011, off the coastal province of Nha Trang, Vietnam.