Harsh words over the South China Sea « IISS Voices
I find it odd that China expects divide and negotiate to work. It might short term but long term Vietnam and other hold outs will shun the asymmetric bargaining position and simply bargain by performing actions like ignoring whatever lines China draws in the waters of the Sea. I find it odd that asking for the moon and expecting full compliance is the actual strategy while strengthening enforcement over those whom don't accept the border of the sea, which is initially everyone. Long term this is simply unsustainable unless it is enforced militarily or accepted by other members of the Pacific (which won't happen it seems even if it is enforced militarily at least in the case of Vietnam). Which seems to never recognize Chinese sovereignty over the islands.The article was in fact a protest at a US Department of State statement the day before, and followed a busy month for observers of the South China Sea. That US statement criticised China’s creation in late July of a new prefecture-level city administration for all of the islands in the South China Sea. The city authority, based on Woody Island in the disputed Paracel Islands, is named Sansha and has all the trappings of any average Chinese city: a mayor, a municipal people’s congress and, somewhat more controversially, a military garrison.
The garrison does not necessarily mean a great increase in military equipment on the 2.5 sq km Woody Island (called Yongxing in China and Phu Lam in Vietnam). China already maintains a military presence on the island, sustained by a 2.7 km airstrip (pictured above) built in 1990 and three artificial harbours on the island’s west. But it does add another layer of military bureaucracy to the region, with the garrison subordinate to the Hainan Military Command, rather than the South Sea Fleet to which the current Paracel Islands detachment reports.
Beijing has designated Sansha as an administrative centre for both the Paracel Islands (also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan) and the Spratly Islands (to which the Philippines and others partially lay claim). Manila, which objects to Sansha, is in negotiations with Japan to acquire 12 patrol boats by 2014 for its coast guard, as it aims to bolster its frankly derisory maritime capabilities. The Philippine Navy accepted the second of two former US Coast Guard cutters in May this year.
The Philippines also offered three new contracts for hydrocarbon exploration in the Spratlys area in late July (following 12 offered in April), two of them in waters disputed with China.
In June, China had invited overseas firms to tender for blocks in waters claimed by Vietnam, including waters that are already being explored by India’s ONGC Videsh in Block 128. ONGC confirmed in July that it would continue to explore in the block after Vietnam offered more favourable terms.
The offer of the blocks for oil explorations where Vietnamese oil derricks and exploration is already ongoing seems a bit absurd but also desperate.
Long term I am curious a bit at the thoughts on the leadership angle here. Is it really so risk-less to push world opinion and weaker nations for phantom oil and sea wealth (non Vietnamese sea zones at least). I could understand a step by step push of contention where by one nation recognizes something they dislike because of circumstances but to create it on avery avenue at the same time is a bit peculiar.
I was reading this and a very simple thought occurred to me, if you militarize the dispute does the shipping premium not kick in? Is there no realization that if push came to shove and you militarized the dispute and it became an ongoing push for sovereignty there are other payments you have to make other than military that you have to suffer as a nation.There is little sign China will back down on its maritime territorial claims or postpone settling them indefinitely. Asked about Beijing’s readiness to set disputes with rival claimants such as Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines aside for the sake of joint resource development, Yin observes that "‘table disputes and develop jointly’ is prefaced with ‘sovereignty is mine.’" In the Senkaku/Diaoyutai dispute in particular, "there is room for neither negotiations nor compromise" since Tokyo "violated an unwritten agreement" with U.S. connivance "and challenged China’s rights." As he notes, China does "not desire to resolve island disputes through military means nor we wish to disturb the external environment" . Nor does he unequivocally rule out a trial of arms should "ocean problems" in the near seas prove intractable.
If you are stronger than me in every way and your weakness is trade would it not make sense to kick you where it would hurt you the most? sure it may hurt me as well but if I have more flexibility as a nation to bear that pain wouldn't it make sense to do so?
It seems China is in the position of Japan in 1939 or so when U.S. stopped exporting oil to it and it declared war in retaliation. Granted the U.S. is not an oil exporter at this point but other nations may behave similarly, perhaps in other commodities China needs. Granted I doubt if they stopped getting copper or iron ore from Australia they would go to war but belligerence would most likely increase. Temporal (Time) flexibility vis a vis economic aspects for China seems to have become lower and lower.