Lessons from Paracels XIV: The Dangerous Panda

China's military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China’s military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China demonstrated its aggressive nature another step when vessel rammed into a Vietnamese fishing vessel and sink her, a few miles from the disputed Paracel Islands which was invaded by China in January 2014.

New York Times story:

China Tensions Grow After Vietnamese Ship Sinks in Clash


BEIJING — Hair-trigger tensions in the South China Sea escalated Tuesday as China and Vietnam traded accusations over the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the vicinity of a Chinese oil rig parked in disputed waters off Vietnam’s coast.

The incident was almost certain to aggravate the already charged diplomatic and economic tensions between China and Vietnam, whose relations have plummeted to the worst in decades following anti-Chinese riots two weeks ago that killed at least four people.

In the latest incident, a Chinese vessel rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat about 17 nautical miles southwest of the rig on Monday afternoon, the state-run Vietnamese television network, VTV1, reported. All 10 crew members were rescued, the network said.
But Beijing labeled Vietnam as the aggressor, with the Chinese state-run news agency, Xinhua, saying the Vietnamese fishing boat “capsized when it was interfering with and ramming” a Chinese fishing vessel from Hainan, a province of China. Then China accused Vietnam of sabotage and interfering with the operations of the oil rig, which has become a flash point of tensions ever since Vietnam learned that the Chinese had set up the rig in waters contested by both nations.


A Chinese coast guard vessel, right, saiied near China’s oil drilling rig in disputed waters earlier this month in the South China Sea. Credit Hoang Dinh Nam/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
At sea, armadas of ships from both countries are jousting with each other as the Chinese try to protect the $1 billion oil rig operated by the energy giant Cnooc and the Vietnamese attempt to disrupt its operations.

Chinese and Vietnamese boats have rammed each other in the area around the oil rig, and the Chinese have acknowledged that they used water cannons to keep the Vietnamese away from the rig, which stands as tall as a 40-story building.

The rig arrived in the waters off the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by both China and Vietnam, on May 1, a unilateral move that showed China was willing to create “facts” establishing its control of the waters of the South China Sea without consulting with other claimants.

“Suddenly Chinese fishing boat #11209 crashed into Vietnamese fishing boat DNa 90152 with 10 fishermen on board,” the VTV1 television report said. A deputy colonel in the Vietnamese Coast Guard, Ngo Ngoc Thu, said the Chinese ship had a steel hull.

An armada of as many as 80 boats, including some from the Chinese Coast Guard, now patrol around the rig, creating a wide perimeter established by the Chinese, according to Vietnamese accounts.

Warships from both countries, including five Chinese frigates, have been observed from outside the perimeter, American officials say.

Chinese social media sites lit up Tuesday with nationalistic postings inspired by the placement of the oil rig and Monday’s clash at sea. Users of ifeng.com, the website of Phoenix Television, a Hong Kong-based satellite network, sent congratulations to the Chinese ship for its action in sinking the Vietnamese vessel.

“Now this is showing some backbone,” said one anonymous user. “Good going, finally seeing some news of concrete action,” said another.

And the depth of anti-Chinese sentiment in Vietnam was on stark display last Friday when a 67-year-old Vietnamese woman set herself on fire and died in Ho Chi Minh City, an echo of the self-immolations by Buddhist monks in South Vietnam in the early 1960s during the Vietnam War.

In the latest incident, the woman burned herself at dawn in the center of the city, and she left behind papers imploring the Vietnamese government to act more aggressively against the Chinese oil rig, city officials said.

Continue reading the main story

Map: Territorial Disputes in the Waters Near China
Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story

The episode between the Chinese and Vietnamese fishing vessels came after anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam resulted in the deaths of four Chinese workers and injuries to more than 100. China evacuated several thousand workers from Vietnam last week.

A report by Xinhua on Tuesday cited Cnooc as saying that the rig had finished its first phase of operation and would stay in the area until mid-August. The Vietnamese Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department said the rig was moved about a few hundred feet north on Sunday, but the significance of the move was not immediately clear.

In a signal of how China, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, now views the South China Sea as a top foreign policy priority, the country’s vice foreign minister said Tuesday that the sea was central to China’s very existence as a global economic power.

“Being the lifeline for China, the South China Sea is far more important to China than to other countries,” the minister, Liu Zhenmin, told reporters in Beijing.

China and Vietnam have enjoyed good relations between the Communist parties that run the two governments, and according to people close to the Vietnamese, the parking of the oil rig in disputed waters came as a surprise.

Since May 1, China has declined to hold substantive talks with Vietnam on the rig or the territorial claims in the South China Sea, a further indication of China’s resolve to make its claims unilaterally, Asian diplomats say. In response, Vietnam has threatened to take the matter to international arbitration, as the Philippines has already done.

The United States has urged restraint on both sides, and Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, the commander of the Pacific Fleet, warned last Friday that the proximity of the boats around the oil rig could lead to a collision.

It was initially impossible to determine whether the Chinese government controlled the Chinese fishing vessel involved in the clash, said Dennis J. Blasko, a former military attaché at the American embassy in Beijing. “We don’t know enough yet if this was coordinated or an individual action,” he said.

Many fishing boats are part of the Chinese militia, which are part of the Chinese armed forces, he said. “If the boat was part of the militia, it could have gotten an order fro the People’s Armed Forces Department,” he said.

The Chinese have publicly acknowledged that 80 percent of China’s fishing boats, including those operating out of Hainan, carry navigation equipment that is subsidized by the Chinese government.

The Beidou navigation satellite system, considered to be a Chinese version of GPS, allows the boats to send instant alarms and short messaging services, according to Qi Chengye, a manger of BDStar Navigation, which provides the Beidou system to Chinese vessels.

“The Chinese government is giving large subsidies to encourage fishermen to install BDS,” Mr. Qi said in an interview in Xinhua last year.

Chau Doan contributed reporting from Hanoi and Chris Buckley from Hong Kong. Bree Feng contributed research from Beijing.



At another disputed island, China scrambles jet against Japanese aircraft near Senkaku.

CNN story:


Close call as China scrambles fighter jets on Japanese aircraft in disputed territory

By Tim Hume, CNN
May 26, 2014 — Updated 1923 GMT (0323 HKT)

This disputed islands in the East China Sea are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Hong Kong (CNN) — Territorial tensions between China and Japan have flared after a close encounter between their military jets in disputed airspace over the East China Sea.
The neighboring rivals accused each other of potentially triggering a dangerous incident, after two pairs of Chinese fighter jets were scrambled and flew unprecedentedly close to a Japanese OP-3C surveillance plane and a YS-11EB electronic intelligence aircraft Saturday.
The fly-bys occurred in airspace claimed by both countries as part of their “air defense identification zones,” while China carried out joint maritime exercises with Russia at the weekend.
Japan claims the flights were part of a routine reconnaissance mission near a group of uninhabited islands claimed by both nations, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.
Japan, China in dispute over claimed space Tensions rise over Asian islands Japan arrests 14 pro-China activists
Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of National Defense described the move as a justified enforcement of the country’s air defense zone.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said it was the closest that Chinese jets had come to Japanese aircraft — passing about 30 meters from one plane and 50 meters from another.
“We believe this proximity and behavior does not follow common sense,” he said.
He said the flight crews reported the Chinese planes were armed with missiles. “The crews were on edge as they responded.”
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Monday that Japan had lodged a protest to China through diplomatic channels over the incident.
“This should never happen,” he said.
Beyond meeting the Japanese aircraft, the Chinese jets took no further action, and the Japanese pilots returned to base.
READ MORE: China’s ‘air defense identification zone,’ explained
In response, a statement from China’s Ministry of National Defense blamed Japan for the incident, saying that the Chinese and Russian navies had issued “no-fly” notices in the area ahead of the maritime drill.
According to the statement, carried by Chinese state media, the ministry had since lodged a complaint with Japan and called on it to “stop all surveillance and interference activities.” “Otherwise, all the consequences that might be caused will be borne by the Japanese side,” read the statement.

An image of a Chinese fighter jet released by Japan’s Defense Ministry after the incident.
Tensions in recent years over China’s increasingly assertive stance towards territorial claims escalated in November when it unilaterally declared an “air defense identification zone,” or ADIZ, that included stretches of disputed territory.
An ADIZ is essentially a buffer zone outside a country’s sovereign airspace, in which nations request that approaching aircraft identify themselves. The United States and Japan have both declared such zones around their territories.
Both countries immediately challenged China’s declaration of its ADIZ in November, with the United States sending two unarmed B-52 bombers through the airspace without notifying Chinese authorities.
The disputed island standoff regularly sees the coast guards of China and Japan tail each other around the island chain.
While the islands are uninhabited, their ownership would allow for exclusive oil, mineral, and fishing rights in surrounding waters, and their status has been a regular flashpoint in Sino-Japanese relations.


These incidents are rude demonstrations of arrogant attitude towards neighbours. Clearly, the reciprocity would neither be kind nor condescending. It is interesting what is the remark if not reaction of United States, which is regard Japan as a strong ally and recent found friendship with once enemy Vietnam.

What is more interesting is Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s remarks, who is in China from today to commemorate 40th anniversary of friendship on 30 May 2014, where his father Second Prime Minister Tun Hj Abdul Razak Hussein pioneered from ASEAN. Prime Minister Najib is expected to attend a private four eyed dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China has had border disputes with Japan, Vietnam, India and Pakistan and territorial disputes which are against principles outlined under the United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) with South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

China’s cry to its neighbours to resolve territorial disputes “Through talk, amongst ourselves as Asians”. However, China’s recent escalation actions are not reflective of neighbourly behavior and attitude.

Published in: on May 27, 2014 at 22:00  Comments (10)  

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s damn dangerous. The Chinese bully is at it again. And again. Stoking up tension in the area. Tempers are flaring. Jittery fighter jet pilot fingers may accidentally press the missile button. Boom. War. Possible World War III.

    Question is: what can be done about it? Those are DAP type of buggers. Irresponsible, hardly respecting laws, stubborn and ultra kiasu. They want everything in the world, not caring for the rights of others. They’ll just ram into ships belonging to others. But won’t dare ram into fighter jets carrying missiles – not yet, so far.

    Now that Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited China, shook hands and signed documents, do joint military exercises, the Chinese bully is emboldened. They will scramble up their fighter jets again and again. Even have their fighter jet pilots make monkey faces in front of the Japanese pilots mid-air. They know the Japanese have an Article 9 war-renouncing Constitution. A legacy of World War II where the vanquished Japanese volunteered to Gen Douglas MacArthur, the Allied Forces Commander governing post-war Japan, that such be included in their new Constitution. And the Japanese are now split over the proposal to amend that. Yea, yea, yea, shouted the Chinese bullies among themselves.

    Three paragraphs now, still no answer to the question what can be done about it. Therein lies the problem. The Chinese bully will act with impunity time and time again. And Najib is also in China now. Being feted, holding hands with the Chinese bully in a so-called four-eyed dinner setting. I hope he’d do no Tun Dol. Where Batu Putih became hitam to the Red Dot. And territorial sovereignty issues over oil rights off Sarawak coast were sacrificed. That UMNO can do. Like doing away with him if he does that.

    Question still is: what can be done about the Chinese bully?.

  2. The US has a large force in Japan and around Japan. They are stationed in the Atsugi Naval Base, Yakota Air Base, Okinawa and many other military facilities. Their aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and all kinds of military hardware must have been readied for war at short notice under Chinese bullying conditions in recent times. They are committed to defending Japan. And defending the free world. China is not seen as free. And with that kind of bullying behaviour, not likely to be so for a long time yet.

    The US and Japanese military and civilian analysts must have been cracking their heads on strategies on how and what to do in the event of trigger-happy, or trigger-nervous jet fighter pilots firing missiles at one another above the disputed islands or elsewhere. Unfortunately, we are not privy to such Top Secret SOPs for the American and Japanese military. And though the Japanese military are still called “Self Defence Forces”, they will change its self defence to a belligerent posture in a such a situation.

    Yes, the usual charade of complaints to the UN, hurried meetings of the Security Council of which both US and the Chinese bully are Permanent members. And the now friendly-to-China Russia, too. And the Russian “Nyet” may resonate with the Chinese “Bo” to any action at slapping the bully by the UN this time. It happens that both Russia and China have foreign-adventure interests at the same time this time. Russia on Ukraine. China on the East China and South China Seas.

    And the situation is different from the Iraq War days. Stupid Geroge W Bush is no more in charge in US. The Europeans have been pulling out of Afghanistan one after another, seemingly not interested in the defence of democracy, whatever, any more. Others may be war-weary but China, with new found wealth, may be war hungry. A Coalition of the Willing is not seen easily available this time around. Barrack Obama, much more a responsible President than Bush, has turned fully grey-haired. Poor man.

    But there will be answers to the question what can be done to the Chinese bully. The Lord works in mysterious ways quite often. In the final analysis, no leader worth his salt will allow a bully to continue to act indiscriminately endlessly. And world leaders are worth their salts. Not DAP leaders or Boko Haram leaders, but world leaders are.

    Good day.

  3. What can Malaysia do as a country and as a nation ,under current Malay leadership ?. Chinese are Chinese ,even in Malaysia (as pendatang) they tends to bully the “tuan tanah” by any means whenever the see the opportunity arise and we see the weak majority Malay scrambled to fulfill their demands.
    They retain everything they are ,their culture ,language, tradition ,vernacular education too, and couldn’t care less ,that they are in the Malay land .

    What could we do about it’s ?, and remember 1.4 billions are in China and how many million more are already well placed throughout SEA ,to stand for, in the name of the Chinese .

    • Get Najib to tell the Chinese President that Malaysia supports China all-out in their space programme, go colonize a few planets in the uncountable number of universes out there, send their people there and leave us alone in planet Earth here, hehe.

      Don’t mind me guys, at times of desperation, cannot find answers what can be done and what to do, try to crack some jokes lah.

  4. China relationship with Malaysia vary special in their heart especially with Razak family.They appreciated Tun Razak for his foresight in establishing diplomatic relationship with China in 1974.

    China is only having problem with Philipine and Vietnam but not Malaysia.

    • Malaysia, Diplomatic relationship with China could be special in their heart , as you say it , but that wasn’t grunted anything.
      The current relation is base entirely on economic benefit of both country and and history has tell us greed are always an influential drive ,for people to change from friends to enemy .

      Melayu , jangan mudah lupa ,dan selesa. what the difference between Chinese in Malaysia , and the one’s in China .

    • China not having problem with Malaysia means Malaysia not having problem with China? If so, why China some time ago showing strength near island Malaysia is claiming just 40 miles from Sarawak coast?

      If China appreciated Tun Razak for establishing diplomatic relations, why appearing to bully?

      They also knew Tun Razak established diplomatic relations in the 70s purely because of Malaysia’s national interest – at that time China also kacau-ing by supporting the Malayan Communist Party terrorists under the bloody now dead Chin Peng. After diplomatic relations, China’s overseas radio broadcasts ceased to be provocative and finally ceased being beamed to the communists in the jungles of Malaysia. This was on record – read about the Period of Emergency in Malaysia.

      China also got their returns by letting the world see that the communist Chinese regime under Mao Zedong, treated like a pariah by the West at that time, was being recognized by an independent country, Malaysia. It benefited both sides and no real terhutang budi.

      But now China knows Malaysia is being courted by US in their “containment of China”, pivoting and re-balancing or whatever scheme it’s being called. So Malaysia needs not be overly pally with China to the extent of being kena gosok kepala. Is Najib being “overly” or not, that’s the next question.

      • “Malaysia is being courted by the US……”? To contain China?

        I thought that Obama’s priority is to push Malaysia into the TPP FTA? Not for the US to sell advanced military technology to Malaysia!

        Malaysia’s foreign and defence policies could do with a strategic rethink. Will Malaysia’s future be better served in Asean or by entering into a formal treaty alliance with the US?

        In any case, geopolitics in the region are being rewritten with the Russia-China gas deal, a Hindu nationalist government in India and Japan deciding whether to rewrite it’s pacifist Constitution.

        There are no easy answers, but I hope that Wisma Putra has a ” Black Swans” think tank on speed dial!

      • Anybody said “for the US to sell advanced military technology to Malaysia”? Or “a formal treaty alliance with the US”?

        But I agree that “Malaysia’s foreign and defence policies could do with a strategic rethink.”

      • I thought that those were the underlying rationales of Isa’s posts?

        Will the US deploy it’s military assets out of Japan, Guam, Diego Garcia and Hawaii to support Asean in it’s problems with China?

        Or is the US more focused on the “big picture” which involves China, Japan, India and militant Islam in the region?

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