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What needs to be done to reduce the risk of conflict in the South China Sea

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What needs to be done to reduce the risk of conflict in the South China SeaThe situation in the South China Sea in 2019 was extremely tense, due to aggressive actions by China that increased the risk of conflict. According to observers, in 2020, it will be hard to maintain peace in the region, since there is not only tension between China and coastal countries in the South China Sea, but also Sino-US strategic competition in the South China Sea, which is becoming fiercer than ever. There are even experts who believe that the South China Sea is becoming a gunpowder furnace and one of the hottest spots on the planet.

However, according to Professor Hu Bo, Director of the Center for Maritime Strategy Research and Research Professor at the Institute of Ocean Research, Peking University, the risk here is only “small-scale armed conflict”. Also mentioned in his article “3 Keys to a Peaceful China-US Maritime Coexistence” in The Diplomat were three proposals to reduce the risk of armed conflict:

First, the US and China need to reach a consensus on power distribution in the Western Pacific region. Hu Bo said that the correlation of forces in this area had gradually been tilted toward Beijing, thanks to decade-long investments in military modernization, though in terms of absolute strength, now or near future, China could not be compared with the United States.

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International experts: Vietnam's ASEAN Chairmanship and the South China Sea

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International experts 1With China and the ASEAN agreeing on a single draft of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), many hope that in 2020, Vietnam, as Chair of ASEAN and the state with largest sovereignty in the South China Sea, would take the opportunity to lead the ASEAN Community towards greater coherence to serve their common interests in the negotiation with China, seeking satisfactory solutions to for the South China Sea issue, and the maintenance of regional peace. However, others also point out the differences among ASEAN countries’ approaches to the South China Sea issue prevents the Community from being a united bloc, thus lessening its voice on the world stage. Therefore, Vietnam, even as ASEAN Chair, might find it difficult to do much for the South China Sea.

Most experts agreed that ASEAN is divided over the South China Sea, hence a big challenge for Vietnam as its Chair to unite these countries to have a unified voice in this matter. Furthermore, there are many other issues facing ASEAN which Vietnam needs to handle and garner for a high consensus among members.

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International experts: Vietnam's ASEAN Chairmanship and the South China Sea

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ASEAN Chairmanship and the South China SeaWith China and the ASEAN agreeing on a single draft of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), many hope that in 2020, Vietnam, as Chair of ASEAN and the state with largest sovereignty in the South China Sea, would take the opportunity to lead the ASEAN Community towards greater coherence to serve their common interests in the negotiation with China, seeking satisfactory solutions to for the South China Sea issue, and the maintenance of regional peace. However, others also point out the differences among ASEAN countries’ approaches to the South China Sea issue prevents the Community from being a united bloc, thus lessening its voice on the world stage. Therefore, Vietnam, even as ASEAN Chair, might find it difficult to do much for the South China Sea.

Most experts agreed that ASEAN is divided over the South China Sea, hence a big challenge for Vietnam as its Chair to unite these countries to have a unified voice in this matter. Furthermore, there are many other issues facing ASEAN which Vietnam needs to handle and garner for a high consensus among members.

Prof. Carl Thayer, from the Australian Defense Force Academy, pointed out that the first thing Vietnam needs to do upon assuming the position of the ASEAN Chair is finding a solution to improve the ASEAN Secretariat’s and the supporting apparatus’ efficiency. For a long time, the Secretariat seems to hide somewhere without being able to maximize its coordinating role. It is necessary for members to share and cooperate well in order to become unified. If the role of the ASEAN Secretariat is elevated, Vietnam's voice might carry more weight.

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Malaysia needs to pay attention to increased activities by big powers in the South China Sea

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Malaysia needs to pay attention to increased activities by big powers in the South China SeaPUTRAJAYA: Malaysia needs to pay attention to the increased activities by big powers in the South China Sea, said Malaysian King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah on Monday (May 18).

Speaking during his parliamentary address at the Dewan Rakyat, the king said that Malaysia's defence strategy needs to take into account the importance of defence diplomacy, a pragmatic foreign policy, international treaties and its international geopolitical position in the Asia Pacific region.

"The increased activities by big powers in the South China Sea recently needs to be paid attention to," he added.

"Hence, Malaysia needs to be always sensitive to the maritime domain, while crafting a strategy that supports our geopolitical aspirations," he said.

China claims much of the South China Sea, but there are overlapping claims by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Washington and its allies have also challenged Beijing’s territorial claims.

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Revenge of Geopolitics: Rising Tensions in the South China Sea

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Revenge of Geopolitics Rising Tensions in the South China SeaMANILA – While China may have recently stolen a Covid-19 march in the contested South China Sea, the United States is pushing back with a countervailing show of force to underscore its commitment to the maritime region’s security.

In recent weeks, the US has stepped up its naval exercises in the disputed maritime area, including through joint exercises between the US Air Force and Marines in the South China Sea as well as integrated surface vessels and submarine war games in the adjoining Philippine Sea.

In late April, the Pentagon deployed the USS Bunker Hill, the USS America and USS Barry warships to the South China Sea, an exceptional show of force, according to strategic analysts. They were accompanied by the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Parramatta frigate.

That was followed by multiple muscular deployments in recent weeks, part of what Pentagon planners say is a new integrated and flexible strategy, one that is clearly aimed at checking China’s expansionist ambitions in the waterway.

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Bayer Vietnam CEO fined for disseminating nine-dash line map

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Bayer Vietnam CEO fined for disseminating nine-dash line mapThe Hanoitimes - The CEO admitted that she sent an attached file having the illegal nine-dash line.

CEO of Bayer Vietnam has been summoned and fined for having disseminated a Chinese map with the unlawful nine-dash line.

Lynette Moey Yu Lin will be fined between VND25 (US$1,086) and VND35 million (US$1,521) for sending a document on Covid-19 – lessons from China with an attached file containing the Chinese map with the nine-dash line to the company’s staff on April 27.

When working with authorities in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City on May 15, Lynette admitted to having sent the attached file of 19 MB and has made effort to retrieve the document.

The news on the spread of the illegal map has immediately sparked wrath among Vietnam netizens who called for dismissal of Lynette Moey Yu Lin, the company’s official apology, and boycott of Bayer products.

So far, Hanoi has strongly opposed China’s self-claimed nine-dash line that covers Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) in the South China Sea, rejecting the Chinese illegal map in all cases both in Vietnam and abroad.

In 2016, a panel in The Hague rejected the legality of China’s claim to waters within a “nine-dash line” that appears on official Chinese maps and encircles as much as 90% of the South China Sea.

Dr. Zachary Abuza, professor at the National War College in Washington, DC, said the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruled that the nine-dash line has no basis as per international law and that the historical rights claimed by China were “extinguished” by the ratification of UNCLOS.

In 2019, Vietnam fined several companies for their “accidental” dissemination of the nine-dash line.

In October 2019, Saigontourist Travel Service Company, one of leading Vietnamese travel companies, was fined VND50 million (US$2,200) for using brochures carrying China’s infamous nine-dash line.

Saigontourist said its Chinese partner supplied the brochure.

“The firm’s violation is very serious, so the inspectorate decided to exceed the maximum fine frame to discipline them,” VnExpress cited Tu Luong, deputy director of Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Information and Communications.

Korea-based CJ CGV Vietnam was fined VND170 million (US$7,400) for licensing Abominable movie that includes the illegal nine-dash line.

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Belgium-Vietnam Friendship Association opposes China's unilateral actions in East Sea

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Brussels (VNA) - President of the Belgium-Vietnam Friendship Association Pierre Grega has voiced the association's support for Vietnam as China has increasingly undertaken unilateral actions in the East Sea.

He called on the international community to increase pressure on China to cease such unilateral actions, which are escalating tensions in the East Sea, while quickly identifying solutions for maritime disputes in line with international law.

Grega made note of a series of Chinese actions that have complicated the situation in the East Sea: a Chinese coast guard ship sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat near Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, China sending vessel Haiyan Dizhi 8 into the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam and Malaysia, and China declaring the establishment of “Xisha district” (Vietnam's Hoang Sa archipelago) and “Nansha district” (Vietnam's Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago) which it states are part of the so-called “Sansha city”.

These unilateral actions, he stressed, run counter to the fundamental principles that guide the settlement of maritime issues as well as the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), signed between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China in 2002.

They are harmful to negotiations over a legally-binding Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), Grega noted.

He also emphasized that Vietnamese fishermen need to conduct safe fishing activities within their country’s territorial waters and that Vietnam wants to resolve tensions via international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

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China’s South China Sea plan unfolds regardless of the coronavirus

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South-China-Sea-Mischief-Reef-in-Spratly-Islands--e1588971765602Recent developments in the South China Sea might lead one to assume that Beijing is taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to further its ambitions in the disputed waterway. But it’s important to note that China has been following a long-term game plan in the sea for decades. While it’s possible that certain moves were made slightly earlier than planned because of the pandemic, they likely would have been made in any case, sooner or later.

One of China’s greatest weapons in the sea is simply patience. In the mid-90s, Beijing reassured Manila that its new stilted structure at Mischief Reef, located in the Spratly islands just 217 km (135 miles) from a Philippine coast, was a fishermen’s shelter. By 2018 the reef had been turned into a militarized artificial island complete with anti-ship cruise missiles. The transformation was likely Beijing’s intention all along, even though in September 2015 Chinese president Xi Jinping promised the Spratlys would not, despite all appearances, be militarized.

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Vietnam: A model of COVID-19 prevention and control

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A model of COVID19 prevention and controlMr. Jonathan Moore expressed his thanks to Vietnam for production cooperation and presentation of medical protection products to the US. Considering Vietnam a model in COVID-19 prevention and control, he said that the two countries can share experiences on fighting the pandemic and on economic recovery, one of current priorities of the US Government.

Relating to the situation in the East Sea, Mr. Moore inquired after fishermen on Vietnamese fishing boats sunk in the East Sea in early April 2020 and protested behavior threatening fishermen and violating the sovereignty in the East Sea.

In terms of ocean cooperation and environment, the US side desires to boost cooperation with Vietnam and ASEAN members through projects on marine environmental protection and diminishing ocean litter and fighting against water resource and air pollution, including environmental projects in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city.

In terms of Mekong cooperation, the US supports raising the US-Mekong Partnership relation to together cope with water resource security and environment in the region; supports mechanisms such as Mekong River Commission in research on impacts of Upper Mekong hydroelectric works on the Lower Mekong, especially drought; continues to cooperate with Vietnam and countries in technological application to management, natural resources protection, and minimizing impacts of natural calamity in the region.

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Sansha and the expansion of China’s South China Sea administration

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On April 18, China’s State Council announced its decision to establish two new districts in Sansha City, a prefecture-level city () headquartered on Woody Island which governs the bulk of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. Some observers may dismiss the creation of these districts as a symbolic but ultimately inconsequential demonstration of Beijing’s resolve. A closer look at the development and role of administrative institutions in Sansha City indicates otherwise. This structural adjustment will improve China’s administrative control over the South China Sea and could introduce new policymaking dynamics.

The State Council established Sansha City as a prefecture-level city belonging to Hainan province in July 2012. The city’s jurisdiction supposedly encompasses over 280 islands, shoals, reefs, and other features along with their surrounding sea areas, amounting to nearly 800,000 square miles of sea and land area. This includes much of China’s claims within its nine-dash line, including the Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands, and Zhongsha Islands (中沙群), generally understood to refer to Scarborough Shoal and Macclesfield Bank.

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China’s South China Sea plan unfolds regardless of the coronavirus

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South China Sea planRecent developments in the South China Sea might lead one to assume that Beijing is taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to further its ambitions in the disputed waterway. But it’s important to note that China has been following a long-term game plan in the sea for decades. While it’s possible that certain moves were made slightly earlier than planned because of the pandemic, they likely would have been made in any case, sooner or later.

One of China’s greatest weapons in the sea is simply patience. In the mid-90s, Beijing reassured Manila that its new stilted structure at Mischief Reef, located in the Spratly islands just 217 km (135 miles) from a Philippine coast, was a fishermen’s shelter. By 2018 the reef had been turned into a militarized artificial island complete with anti-ship cruise missiles. The transformation was likely Beijing’s intention all along, even though in September 2015 Chinese president Xi Jinping promised the Spratlys would not, despite all appearances, be militarized.

Click the link for the original article

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