VietNamNet Bridge – When setting up the HD 981 oil rig in Vietnamese waters, China has targeted more than one goal. It has tried to alleviate tensions, at the same time continue the East Sea de facto occupation and its economic resource exploitation plans.
China wants to become the "fourth player" in the internatinal political chessboard.
This is also being used to discover the Vietnamese attitude and American regional policies.
Facts were unclear when China began setting up the oil rig in the Vietnamese exclusive economic zone (EEZ). However, the news about the rig deployment turned up on local newspapers on the occasion of the 60th of the Vietnam’s anniversary of Dien Bien Phu victory.
The location where China set up its oil rig is over 100 nautical miles away from Vietnamese Ly Son Island, just 10 nautical miles far from the nearest island of the Hoang Sa archipelago.
The attention paid by the nations towards the offshore small islands increased after the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea took effects.
Under the convention, every island, once declared sovereign, would become a landmark to fix the boundaries between the nations. As such, it helps extend the territorial waters and make the EEZ larger.
The world is now facing a serious shortage of energy, especially fossil fuels. The hotter economic development a country has, the more serious the problem it faces.
This explains why the tension at the small archipelagos has been escalating, and the tension tends to be higher in the areas where there is a Chinese presence.
Why this moment?
Observers think that with the deployment of the oil rig in the East Sea, the Chinese administration this time does not intend to “go further” by carrying out military operations.
What China has done is deploy the oil rig, protected by a lot of ships, and conducti violent actions – crashing, colluding with Vietnamese boats. Meanwhile, the Chinese and Vietnamese naval forces have been restrained and stand “on the sidelines”.
But why does China take such actions at this moment?
Some analysts believe that China deliberately “roused the waters” on the occasion of the Vietnam’s 60th anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu Victory. But this not the entire story.
The Chinese administration is facing many internal problems. Tibet seems to be peaceful with fewer self-immolation of Tibetan monks, but Xinjiang is getting “scorching hot”.
China is facing a serious social problem – the widening gap between the rich and the poor. This is the reason behind a series of demonstrations launched by the workers in some coastal cities.
The continued protests against the administration from autonomous regions or from the Falun Gong people have caused headaches for Chinese leaders.
Meanwhile, the fact that a series of Chinese VIPs, including Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkang, have been brought into court recently also shows signs of internal difficulties.
Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Tibet are the three biggest problems for China which cannot be easily settled because these are matters of national independence and separatism.
Attempt to become the “fourth player”
The most noteworthy political issue so far this year is the conflict in in Ukraine and the joining of Crimea Island to Russia.
After the events in Crimea in May 2014, the world’s geopolitical chessboard has seen big changes. A new formidable rival has turned up, Russia, to join the chessboard with the US and the EU, which are considered the “veteran players”.
With its strong and determined actions, Russia has conveyed a message to the world: “I am back”.
With the recent big changes in the world, China cannot “stay outside” any more. The uncertainties in the Eastern Ukraine – Crimea and the embarrassment of both the Europe and the US all give China a great opportunity to take actions to become the “fourth influence” on the world’s geopolitical chessboard.
China wants to see a multi-polar world in the future, where China is a pole surrounded by satellites, from close ones such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and South East Asian countries.
Therefore, the Chinese administration has been pursuing a special policy with inconsistent international treatment. China needs Japanese investors and lays down the red carpet to welcome investors from the country. However, it still stirs up the dispute for Diaoyu/Senkaku. China vows to take back Taiwan, but it surely will never do this with military operations.
China this time does not aim to provoke the Philippines or Japan, the two countries which have received US President Barack Obama.
With one saw – HD 981 – China attempts to cut many trees. It tries to alleviate the domestic tense situation, continue the East Sea de facto occupation and economic resource exploitation plans.