Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Vietnam Holds Naval Exercise In South China Sea To Give Beijing A Warning

Courtesy BBC
A Vietnamese naval officer said the "routine" drills were being held about 40km (25 miles) off central Quang Nam province, outside the disputed area.However, Hanoi sought to play down the drill Monday in an apparent attempt to avoid antagonizing its larger neighbor unnecessarily.

Chinese state media as usual denounced the exercises as a military show of force to defy Beijing. But forgot to mention the reason for this. This is in response to the unprovoked attack on a Vietnamese survey shipRead More About Chinese Strong Arm Tactics

The South China Sea includes important shipping routes and may contain rich oil and gas deposits. The exercises around the island of Hon Ong, around 25 miles off the coast of central Vietnam, come after a series of clashes between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels over oil exploration in the area and threaten to further ratchet up tensions.

The maneuvers also follow Vietnam's announcement over the weekend that it would welcome foreign involvement to resolve rival claims to the potentially resource-rich waters—an apparent reference, analysts say, to the U.S., which last year infuriated Beijing by saying that resolving disputes in the hotly contested South China Sea is in America's national interest.

A prominent U.S. senator Monday said the U.S. needs to signal its dissatisfaction with China's use of force in the area and push more forcefully for multilateral negotiations to resolve sovereignty issues there. Democrat Sen. Jim Webb, who heads the Senate subcommittee on U.S. policy towards East Asia, said Vietnam and other countries in the region were watching whether "we are going to back up those words with substantive action," the Associated Press reported.

A successful first barrage of naval artillery, lasting about four hours, took place about 40 kilometers (25 miles) off Quang Nam province in central Vietnam, said a naval officer in Danang city who asked not to be named.

He declined to reveal how many ships had been mobilized, but said no missiles were fired. A similar night drill would start at 7 p.m. and last about five hours, the officer added.

Demonstrations are not tolerated by the communist regime of Vietnam yet they have allowed it in Hanoi for the second weekend in a row, calling for China to get out of Vietnam's territorial waters.Authorities appear to be allowing protests related to the South China Sea dispute, as a clear indication of its resolve to fight.

China is engaged in maritime border disputes with several countries.

The Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have rival claims in the area. The US has also expressed concern about China's rising naval ambitions.