28 May 2014
Vietnam’s leaders face growing pressure to challenge China in international court, risking economic retaliation by its largest trading partner, after a Vietnamese fishing boat collided with a Chinese ship and sank.
Vietnam said last week it’s considering arbitration against China over an oil rig placed near the contested Paracel Islands, following a Philippine case under way with the United Nations over shoals off its coast.
Legal action is one of the few options Vietnamese leaders have to placate a population that expects the government to counter China’s increasingly aggressive moves in the South China Sea. Deadly anti-China protests erupted in Vietnam earlier this month, targeting businesses thought to be Chinese. Elevating the dispute to an international tribunal or the UN threatens to damage economic ties between the neighboring communist countries.
… Vietnam may have scored a win on the public relations front, said Li Mingjiang, associate professor and coordinator of the China program at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
“This will help mitigate the negative repercussions that the riots in Vietnam entailed,” he said. “No matter what narrative China tries to build for this ramming incident, mainstream international opinion will be more sympathetic to Vietnam.”
GPO / IDSS / RSIS / Online
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