Vietnam protests planned Taiwanese Spratlys visit

Hanoi – Vietnam’s government has asked Taiwan to call off a planned inspection tour of the disputed Spratly Islands, one of two archipelagos in the South China sea claimed by several countries in the region, local press reported Tuesday.

‘Vietnam resolutely objects to all activities violating its sovereignty over the two archipelagos,’ government spokesman Le Dung said.

Taiwanese Defence Minister Tsai Ming-hsien was scheduled to visit the Spratlys on Monday before postponing the trip due to bad weather.

Vietnam, Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei each claim all or part of the Spratlys and the nearby Paracels, and all but Brunei have a military presence on one or more of the atolls. Taiwan has built an airstrip on the largest of the islands, while Vietnam has stationed sailors on another.

The waters around the islands are believed to contain substantial petroleum reserves.

Conflict over the islands began heating up in November, when China established a new government district, called Sansha, to administer them. Vietnam officially protested the Chinese move, and Vietnamese students staged rare spontaneous protests in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City asserting Vietnamese sovereignty.

To avoid military clashes in the region, China, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand signed the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

The declaration commits the parties to resolving the islands’ status through negotiations, and provides for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

Taiwan is not a signatory to the declaration because China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and has barred Taiwan from attending official meetings on the Spratlys.

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/asiapacific/news/article_1403610.php/Vietnam_protests_planned_Taiwanese_Spratlys_visit

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Vietnam protests Taiwan military flight to Spratlys

 http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/world/view/20080124-114574/Vietnam-protests-Taiwan-military-flight-to-Spratlys

HANOI — Vietnam on Thursday protested a Taiwanese military flight to one of the disputed Spratly Islands, amid reports of a planned visit there by Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian.

Taiwan on Monday for the first time sent a military aircraft, a C-130 transport plane, to one of the Spratly islands for a one-day return trip, a defense official in Taipei said Wednesday.

Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, China, Malaysia and the Philippines claim all or part of the potentially oil-rich Spratlys.

“Vietnam requests Chinese Taipei to stop immediately this action and to stop similar actions in the region,” said Vietnam’s foreign ministry spokesman Le Dung, using the name by which communist China refers to Taiwan.

Dung told a media briefing that “Vietnam resolutely opposes all acts violating the sovereignty of Vietnam” over the Spratlys and the Paracels, another disputed island group in the South China Sea.

The Taipei-based United Daily News reported Chen was planning a trip to the Spratlys before the March 22 presidential election to underscore Taipei’s claim to the archipelago.

Chen, who is to retire in May after eight years in office, planned to take an air force C-130 transport aircraft to the Taiping islet, the biggest island in the Spratlys, the newspaper said.

The trip, if it goes ahead, would likely trigger protests from claiming countries.

Taiwan’s defense ministry began building a 1,150-meter (3,773-feet) runway on the fortified Taiping islet in mid-2006, despite protests from Vietnam, and the project has been completed, the paper said.

All claimants except Brunei have troops based on the archipelago of more than 100 islets, reefs and atolls, which have a total land mass of less than five square kilometers (two square miles).

Taiwan president to visit disputed Spratly islands

TAIPEI, Jan 20, 2008 (AFP) –

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian is planning a visit to the Spratly islands in the South China Sea to underscore Taipei’s claim to the disputed group, it was reported Sunday, in a move that is sure to spark tensions in the region.

The trip, which would come before presidential polls on March 22, is aimed at drumming up support for Frank Hsieh, the ruling independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) candidate in the election, the Taipei-based United Daily News said.

Chen, who is to retire in May after eight years in office, plans to take an air force C-130 transport aircraft to the Taiping Islet, the biggest island in the Spratlys, the newspaper said without citing its source.

It added that since the F-16s could not fully protect Chen during his trip to the islet, which is some 1,600 kilometres (960 miles) from Taiwan’s southern Kaohsiung city, the navy would send a fleet to the Spratlys led by a Kidd-class destroyer.

Presidential Office spokesman Lee Nan-yang would not confirm the visit. “The president visits various troop units before the Lunar New Year each year,” he told AFP.

“He may do so this year to boost military morale, but we’ve yet to receive this year’s visit plan from the defence ministry.”

If it takes place, the trip would lead to protests from neighbouring countries — including its rival China — which also lay claim to the islands, the daily said.

Taiwan’s defence ministry began building a 1,150-metre-long (3,795-feet) runway in the fortified Taiping islet in mid-2006, despite protest from Vietnam, and the project is nearly complete, it said.

The DPP suffered a humiliating defeat in parliamentary elections on January 12, with the major opposition Kuomintang and its smaller allies winning 86 of 113 seats. Chen immediately resigned as DPP chairman.

Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, China, Malaysia, and the Philippines claim all or part of the potentially oil-rich Spratlys.

All claimants except Brunei have troops based on the archipelago of more than 100 islets, reefs and atolls, which have a total land mass of less than five square kilometres (two square miles).

Manila, Beijing agree fishing deal on disputed area

 http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSMAN307022

MANILA, Jan 11 (Reuters) – The Philippines and China have agreed to set up a common fishing area in the disputed South China Sea, the head of the Philippine House of Representatives said on Friday, hoping it would reduce tension in the area.

House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr said the two countries could expand the fisheries agreement by asking other Southeast Asian states, particularly Vietnam, to take part in the cooperative fishing activities.

“This will turn an area of potential conflict into a zone of peace and development,” de Venecia said in a statement, a day after he met Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing.

In the late 1990s, a Philippine Navy warship opened fire on three Chinese fishing boats near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, accusing Chinese fishermen of poaching in its territorial waters.

Vietnamese troops stationed on one of the contested islands in the Spratlys had also opened fire on a Philippine fishing boat when it tried to seek shelter during a typhoon.

De Venecia said the creation of common fishing areas in the disputed waters of the South China Sea would help lessen tension in these disputed areas, preventing undue arrests of fishermen from China and Southeast Asian states.

Poaching and illegal fishing have been a traditional irritant among the six claimant states in the South China Sea.

De Venecia said the fisheries deal could also boost existing cooperation among China, the Philippines and Vietnam to conduct scientific research and studies to discover oil, gas and minerals within the Spratlys.

China, Vietnam and Taiwan have conflicting territorial claims over the entire South China Sea while Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines are claiming parts of the Spratlys.

In the late 1980s, China and Vietnam fought over several tiny and uninhabited isles in the Paracels and Spratlys, resulting in the sinking of three Vietnamese Navy boats, killing at least 72 sailors.

Last month, nationalist street demonstrations were held in front of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi and consulate building in Ho Chi Minh over the long-running dispute on ownership of South China Sea islands.

On Wednesday, De Venecia had called on the three states to start oil exploration in disputed waters in the Spratlys due to rising crude oil prices in the world market. China, Vietnam and the Philippines are heavily dependent on imported crude oil.

In 2002, China signed a non-binding code of conduct agreement with the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh, helping ease tension after they agreed to a ban on military activities in the Spratlys. (Reporting by Manny Mogato, editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

TO UNDERSTAND MODERN VIETNAM, LOOK TO ITS CONFUCIAN PAST

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/12/23/IN6BU1MRT.DTL

Vietnamese students are in the streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City protesting what they call a renewed Chinese “invasion” of the Spratly and Paracel Islands in the oil-and-gas-rich South China Sea. Their last war was a brief one in 1979, though less than two decades ago a confrontation near the Spratlys left several dozen Vietnamese dead.

Vietnam claims the islands because they are off its coast, but with so many resources under the sea, several other nations in the region claim them as well, most forcefully China.

There has long been an intense love-hate relationship between these two countries, who share a border as long as that between the United States and Mexico. China’s influence began in the second century B.C. and actually increased after Vietnam won its independence a millennium later. Many Vietnamese today play down this heritage, and only 3 to 5 percent of 85 million Vietnamese are identified as ethnic Chinese. Vietnam does have its own very specific identity. Still, as Vietnam National University law Professor Pham Duy Nghia has argued, to understand contemporary Vietnam, one must look back to its Confucian past.

Vietnam’s war with the United States was a terrible and destructive experience, but it has far less significance for Vietnam today and tomorrow than the deeply rooted Confucian-based culture. Vietnam’s reforms are themselves in many ways closely patterned on those launched almost 30 years ago in China and, despite periodic disputes relations between the two, are expanding exponentially.

The cultural heritage stands out in many ways. Most obviously, there is the elitist government that sees governance in moral terms and maintains a paternalistic relationship between rulers and ruled. Since it launched reforms in 1986, the Vietnamese government has set high goals to be achieved by pragmatic economic change, rapidly improved education and a strong goal-oriented work ethic, encumbered by corruption.

Other Confucian-influenced governments in East and Southeast Asia preceded Vietnam in exploiting these qualities and became Asia’s economic “dragons” and “tigers,” most moving in time beyond traditional Confucian institutional authoritarianism to some form of democratic governance. Countries in Asia without the Confucian background have had much less success with reforms.

Today, Vietnam is still a rapidly growing tiger cub, so to speak, because it got started late in its market-oriented reforms. This was because Le Duan, who succeeded Ho Chi Minh as Communist Party boss in 1969, rejected reconciliation at the end of the war in favor of a brutal campaign of reprisals. He further centralized the economy and focused his persecution especially on the Chinese-Vietnamese entrepreneurs who had made what was then Saigon so prosperous. Hundreds of thousands fled across or into the sea as “boat people.”

When Le Duan finally died in 1986, Vietnamese pragmatists launched the “renovation” (doi moi) program that is remaking Vietnam today. While doi moi does not include democratization, as the continuing harassment and imprisonment of political dissidents demonstrates, it does recognize the need for the greater individual opportunity and personal initiative that in some other countries have in time resulted in more democratic governance.

Vietnamese and Chinese leaders today are pragmatic and know they have too many common roots and interests, bilateral and beyond, to get sidetracked into real conflict, even over oil in the South China Sea.

William Ratliff is a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and author of the forthcoming book “Getting Down to Business in Vietnam: Entrepreneurship in Asia’s Tiger Cub” (Independent Institute).

Tuoi Tre Chung Toi – Hoang Sa – Truong Sa

Vietnam calls for end to anti-China protests

http://thepost.com.pk/IntNews.aspx?dtlid=135164&catid=1

AFP HANOI: Vietnam’s government Thursday called on its people to end anti-China protests over the countries’ rival claims in the South China Sea.

Several hundred people marched in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday for the second consecutive weekend in the long-simmering dispute over the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos.

Police prevented about 300 demonstrators in the capital and around 100 in the southern port city formerly called Saigon from protesting outside China’s embassy and consulate.

But Beijing Tuesday said it was “highly concerned” and called on the Vietnamese government to “take a responsible attitude and effective measures to stop this and prevent bilateral ties from being hurt.”

“Authorities have also requested the people to end this kind of action,” Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesman Le Dung told reporters Thursday.

“Vietnam also pursues the policy to settle all disputes through negotiations,” Dung said, assuring Beijing that the authorities “have taken the necessary measures to ensure the safety for the diplomatic mission and maintain the social order.”