Tuesday, 1 August 2017

South China Sea is in Epicenter of Int'l Brawls Making ‘Co-Existing’ Impossible

The calm in the South China Sea, as many had warned, was illusory. Moreover, in the summer the situation in the region has become further aggravated. To add fuel to the fire, recently Hanoi has struck back following calls from Beijing to stop oil exploration in Block 136-03 of the South China Sea. Sputnik spoke to an analyst about this issue.

"Vietnam’s petroleum-related activities take place in the sea entirely under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of Vietnam established in accordance with international law," Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said Friday.

However, Beijing reportedly threatened to attack Vietnamese positions in the Spratly/Nansha Islands of the sea if an oil discovery operation led by Spanish oil firm Respol was not called off on July 15.
This incident clearly shows that the tensions that arose after the abolition of joint Chinese-Vietnamese exercises this June are still quite strong.

Furthermore, US President Donald Trump has reportedly approved a plan to give the US Navy more freedom to carry out patrols in the South China Sea.

In order to make sense of what exactly is going on in the South China Sea, Sputnik spoke with an expert at the Center for Strategic Research, Anton Tsvetov.

“Recently, the US media reported that Donald Trump approved a plan of Defense Minister James Mattis to conduct operations on freedom of navigation. If the information is correct, these operations will be held on a regular basis, rather than being approved each time by the National Security Council,” Tsvetov said.
This move is a clear sign that the US is planning on stepping up operations in the South China Sea and, according to the expert, there is another player on the horizon that is slowly nearing the dispute: the United Kingdom.
“UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson plans on sending two aircraft carriers that were just launched to ‘strengthen the rule-based world order,’” Tsvetov said.
The UK’s modern HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier is the largest ship built for the UK Royal Navy and it is currently undergoing tests.

The vessel should be approved by the navy by the end of 2017. The second ship, the HMS Prince of Wales, is currently being fitted in a Scottish shipyard.

Meanwhile, China continues to strengthen relations with Roderigo Duterte. During a visit to Manila, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the joint mining of minerals in the South China Sea, which, according to the Philippine president, may begin as early as this year, will become a model for the settlement of territorial disputes. 

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, August 1st, 2017.]

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