China – a hungry dragon in the East Sea

VietNamNet Bridge – After implementing the closed-door policy for a long period of time, China has begun to compete with other countries and raise big claims in the East Sea.



China's Ocean Oil 981 oilrig in the East Sea.

In his recently-published book “Vietnam’s Imprints in the East Sea,” Dr. Tran Cong Truc, former chief of the Border Committee, analyzed China’s marine policy. Below is an extract from the book.

China’s goal is to become a superpower of the same rank with the US by 2050, based on reform, open-door policy and peaceful rise. China believes that from now to 2020 is the best time for development. Therefore, China’s foreign policy in the coming years is trying to solve inside and outside conflicts, avoid the use of extreme measures and confrontation with the US, develop friendly and cooperative relations with neighbors and maintain peaceful environment.

On the other hand, after a long period of time leading the world for economic growth rate, China has become a big country in the world.

In 2005, its gross domestic product (GDP) exceeded US$2.2 trillion to become the fourth largest economy in the world.

Because of robust economic development, China has become a hungry dragon for fuel and materials.

From 2003, China has become the second largest importer of oil in the world, after the US. China has been spreading to the world to seek and exploit natural resources and energy to satisfy its demand of development and ensure its energy security. The ocean is considered an important source.

To facilitate transportation of fuel and goods, China now attaches importance to the freedom of navigation and maritime commercial safety. With around 70 percent of its imported oil transported via the East Sea, China sees the East Sea as its life-line.

China has raised the biggest claims in the East Sea. After implementing the closed door policy for a long time, this country began eyeing and encroaching into the East Sea. The process has happened as below:

In 1909 it began to occupy Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago.

In 1946 it drew the U-shaped line, which covers around 80 percent of the East Sea. However until May 2009 it made the line public. At the same time it occupied eastern islands in Hoang Sa Archipelago and Ba Binh Island in Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago.

In 1956, the People’s Republic of China occupied the eastern part of Hoang Sa while Taiwan held Ba Binh Island in Truong Sa.

In 1958, the People’s Republic of China officially raised its sovereignty claims over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.

In 1974, this country occupied the western part of Hoang Sa. It continued to occupy some islands in Truong Sa in 1988 and Vanh Khan Island of Truong Sa in 1995.

China claims sovereignty over the whole Hoang Sa Archipelago. It considers Hoang Sa and the adjacent waters as its natural territory. It also claims sovereignty over the entire Truong Sa Archipelago and its adjacent waters, but admits to have disputes.

From the 90s, along with China’s fast economic development and the improvement of China’s position in the international arena, China began building and implementing a new marine policy. Under this policy, China has strengthened its control and exploitation of the sea to serve its goal of becoming a maritime superpower. China believes that it cannot become a real superpower if it is not a maritime superpower.

China’s policy is exploring the far waters firstly and then to the near waters, the disputed waters firstly and then its waters; diplomatic methods go firstly, followed by naval force; sowing division among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); taking advantage of and restricting the US and Japan.

In terms of cooperation mode, China focuses on bilateral cooperation and multilateral cooperation when China holds the key role. Its main direction in the sea is the East Sea, where natural resources are abundant, big countries do not have military bases and related small countries are weak at military ability.

Tran Cong Truc

 
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