27 May 2014
Tensions over territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea flared up on May 7 when Chinese vessels and Vietnamese vessels clashed, following a Vietnamese attempt to stop China from installing a deepwater drilling rig near the Xisha Islands, which are controlled by Beijing but also claimed by Vietnam. Up through May 16, there were more than 60 Vietnamese vessels of various types at the scene. In addition, Vietnamese vessels have collided against Chinese vessels over 500 times since May 2 when Oil Rig 981 was placed in this area.
Vietnam has launched a strong diplomatic and public relations campaign supporting its attempts. Sam Bateman, senior fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, points out, “Vietnam appears to be winning the public relations battle with much global commentary supporting its claim that the rig is illegal and painting the situation as yet another example of China’s assertiveness,” but adds that “a closer look into the situation suggests that China could be well within its rights in planting the rig.”
IDSS / RSIS / Print
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