Against the background of a sluggish civil war in Ukraine and the intensification of the confrontation between the West and Russia, one should not forget about the “Pacific Front”. The latest conflict between China, on the one hand, and Vietnam and the Philippines, on the other, shows that the Asia-Pacific region can flaunt up at any moment and become one of the leading fronts of the world conflict, which the current world community is gradually slipping into.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the conflict between China and Japan over disputed territories, the dispute over the Spratly Archipelago and the Paracel Islands, which are located in the South China Sea and are subject to a territorial conflict between China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan, there is already a significant gap of time. Everything suggests that the tension in the ATP is growing. Now in the Far East and Southeast Asia there is a war of nerves. The parties exchange statements, pose, the ships and aircraft of the opposing sides pass through disputed territories, and the development of disputed islands and shelves is underway. Vietnam riots, there are dead and wounded. Participants protest storming Chinese and other foreign enterprises. It is difficult to predict when and where it will flare up in full force. But one thing is clear, the United States, this situation is beneficial. America is ready to fight to the last drop of blood Korean, Japanese or Vietnamese. The main goal in the APR is China.
We can not forget about the Russian Far East, which is also of interest to Western TNCs and TNB. Russia in this conflict will not remain a bystander. We will get another source of chaos, now at the Far Eastern borders. The United States and part of the global "elite" rely on chaos and destruction. The war should write off debts, previous commitments, reformat the world, lead to the creation of a New World Order.
Fight for the islands
Vietnam is gripped by anti-Chinese sentiment. Participants in the protests demand the withdrawal of the Chinese oil platform from the disputed section of the South China Sea. May 15 received a message about the death of a 21 person (according to preliminary data, the majority of the dead are Chinese) and a hundred injured. Hundreds of people detained by law enforcement. Demonstrators stormed a Formosa Plastics Group steel plant owned by a Taiwanese corporation in the Vietnamese province of Ha Tinh. In addition, 15 defeated foreign enterprises in the south of the state. Mass protests began on May 11 and were associated with a conflict in the area of disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Taiwanese, Chinese and South Korean enterprises suffered from pogroms. They also touched on the protest actions of other foreign entrepreneurs. Thus, the Singapore Foreign Ministry said that several foreign enterprises had suffered. The rioters broke them and set them on fire. Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park has been affected. The government of Singapore asked Hanoi to immediately restore order. The Chinese Foreign Ministry called on Vietnam to calm down and respect the sovereignty of the PRC. Taiwan expressed concern, condemned the violence and urged Hanoi to restore order, and to refrain from making hasty decisions that could endanger the long-standing friendly relations between the two countries.
It should be noted that the surge of tension in the region occurred after the visit of the American President Barack Obama, who expressed support for his allies Japan and the Philippines, which have territorial disputes with Beijing. The President of the United States signed an agreement on military cooperation with the Philippine authorities. In addition, Daniel Russell, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said in April that Beijing should not doubt Washington’s willingness to defend its Asian allies if China uses force to resolve territorial conflicts with its neighbors. Russell said that "should increase the pressure on China."
The reason for the growth of tension in the South China Sea gave China. The Chinese first sent a deepwater drilling rig for hydrocarbon exploration off the Paracel Islands. The rig is owned by a Chinese state oil and gas company and can operate at depths up to 3 km. According to scientists, oil reserves in the South China Sea range from 23 to 30 billion tons, and natural gas - about 16 trillion. cubic meters. Most of the hydrocarbons (about 70%) are located on the deep water shelf. In Vietnam, the Paracel Islands are believed to belong to them. In addition, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei are involved in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
Chinese oil platform in the South China Sea
May 7 Hanoi demanded that Beijing remove the derrick from the South China Sea. Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Min held telephone conversations with State Councilor Yang Jiechi and said that Hanoi would take all measures to protect national interests in the South China Sea. Vietnam accused the PRC of violating international laws and the sovereignty of Vietnam. Vietnam demands to remove the oil rig and begin negotiations to resolve the controversial issue. According to the Vietnamese, the Chinese tower is located within the economic zone of Vietnam. The Vietnamese stated that the oil rig was installed on the continental shelf, on which, according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Hanoi has exclusive rights to search for and extract natural resources. The Chinese claim that the tower is located in the territorial waters of the People's Republic of China and makes claims on most of the waters of the South China Sea. Vietnam was supported by the United States. A spokesman for the US State Department, Jen Psaki, called the actions of the PRC provocative and not conducive to maintaining peace and stability in the region.
The Vietnamese were able to prevent the Chinese ships from installing a drilling rig, which was intended to strengthen the existing Chinese drilling platform. The forces were unequal: only one Chinese warship accompanied the platform. Vietnam sent about three dozen ships of the Navy and coast guard to intercept. However, China responded by flotilla in 80 ships. Both sides accused the enemy of aggressive behavior. According to Hanoi, the Chinese rammed several Vietnamese ships and drove them away with water cannons. The Chinese said that the Vietnamese were going to ram. And the use of water cannons was justified by the fact that they are used "on the original Chinese territory." Although a gunshot weapon and did not apply, news agencies reported several injuries.
This collision caused a sharp increase in tension. The Vietnamese and Chinese public accuse each other of aggression and violation of sovereign rights. For example, the Beijing-based Global Times newspaper said: “We need to teach Vietnam the lesson it deserves.” According to Jonathan Landon, a university professor in Hong Kong, the situation in the South China Sea indicates a serious shift in China’s maritime strategy: “Previously, China had declared its claims, and now it is implementing them.” This thought supports the and Leading Researcher, Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Larin. Previously, China kept in the shadows, accumulated strength, now it is possible to realize their plans.
Historical background of the conflict. Disputed Territory Resources
This year marks forty years since the uninhabited Paracel Islands, near which the Chinese drilling platform is located, came under the control of China. The Battle of the Paracel Islands (or the Battle of the Xisha Islands) in 1974 took place between the naval forces of the PRC and South Vietnam. The regime of the Republic of Vietnam that ruled Saigon was on the verge of defeat, and China decided to use the opportune moment. The Chinese under the guise of fishermen landed on several uninhabited islands. Above the islands, the Chinese flag was raised as a sign of the sovereignty of the PRC over them. Vietnamese ships began to shoot Chinese flags. There was a shootout with the Chinese. Vietnamese ship rammed a Chinese fishing boat. The leadership of the People's Republic of China gave the order to “free” the islands. Additional Chinese forces arrived in the area. The clash of naval forces led to the victory of the Chinese. According to Vietnamese data, China has thrown into battle four rocket boats of the "Komar" type. The Chinese sank the Nat Tiao corvette HQ-10 (former American minesweeper). Earlier, the HQ-16 frigate Lee Thхong Kiet (a former American coastal defense ship) received heavy damage. The rapid loss of one of the ships and the heavy damage of the other forced the Vietnamese to retreat. After the departure of the South Vietnamese ships, the Chinese forced the small Vietnamese ground forces to capitulate. During this short battle, the Vietnamese lost 52 people dead and 16 wounded, and the Chinese 18 people killed and 67 wounded. According to the Chinese, all their ships survived, although they were damaged. As a result, China established control over the controversial Paracel Islands. Since then, on one of the disputed islands - Woody, the Chinese built an airfield, a rescue center and deployed a military garrison.
The dispute over the Spratly archipelago also has a long history (Spratly Islands - a zone of possible military conflict in Southeast Asia). And besides the PRC and Vietnam, it also claims to be Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Islands are not inhabited. This archipelago in the southwestern part of the South China Sea consists of more than 100 islands, reefs, atolls, which have a total area of less than 5 square. km There are also hundreds more islets submerged in water. At various times the islands were controlled by Spaniards, Americans, Filipinos, then the French were firmly established on them. The French have rejected the claims to the islands. During World War II, the islands were taken over by the Japanese, then the French returned to them (from them they transferred to the Vietnamese as “legacy”) and the Chinese. Later on, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei created their outposts on the islands. The largest number of islands belongs to Vietnam, followed by China and the Philippines.
Conflicts happen from time to time. So, 1988 year, there was a clash of the Chinese and Vietnamese Navy. Johnson Reef (Xin Kou) killed three Vietnamese and one Chinese patrol. China again won, which expanded its area of control. In the future, clashes became common, but it did not reach serious battles.
In fact, Paracel and Spratly are a bunch of bare rocks and reefs in the sea. However, they have military-strategic importance - control over the South China Sea water area and sea communications. The islands are located on the most important sea routes from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. For China, they are of great importance, as they connect the country with the Middle East, Africa and Western Europe. According to him, vital resources come to China. In addition, in recent decades, the role of resources that can be obtained at sea has increased. Thus, the area of disputed islands is rich in biological resources. We should not forget about the hydrocarbons that are on the shelf. Both Paracel and Spratly are regarded by experts as the most promising for hydrocarbon development in the region. At the same time, the volume of real hydrocarbon reserves cannot be calculated. The Chinese in their forecasts are the most optimistic. Taking into account the factors of the rapid growth of the population and the economies of the Asia-Pacific countries, the natural resources of the South China Sea are a serious reason to fight.
In addition, you can not throw off with the account and the usual patriotism. The same China and Vietnam have an old history of hostility, and are not going to yield to each other. Political leadership cannot lose face with its people. In China and Vietnam, the local middle class, which is the carrier of the ideology of nationalism, has grown significantly. At present, Southeast Asia can be compared with Europe before the First World War. People demand “historical justice” and desire revenge for past defeats. Territorial disputes have long been a serious prerequisite for the growth of nationalist sentiment.
China’s policy is about getting the most out of what’s possible. Therefore, Beijing declared about 80% of the entire water area of the South China Sea its sovereign territory. The Chinese proceeded from the location of the islands, they consider them their "original territory", and if so, the territorial waters around them also belong to them (hence the 80% of the sea area). It is clear that in no case does not suit the neighbors of China, who have their own claims to the islands. And they are not going to give up. And on the edge of the conflict are Vietnam and the Philippines, which will lose the most from Beijing's appetites. China on notes of protest from neighboring states said that there would be no obstruction to free trade and the movement of ships through its “internal waters” and for now this word holds. However, this cannot suit the neighboring countries. Previously, maritime communications were free, the flow of goods on them was natural and was not subject to doubt. Now everything is under the control of China and the consequence of their goodwill. In 2013, the Chinese police received the right to land inspection teams on foreign ships in the South China Sea, inspect them and, if necessary, take control.
It should be noted that the Chinese have consistently objected to the convening of a conference of all interested parties on the current problems of the South China Sea with the participation of observers from the world community. They prefer bilateral negotiations. In such a situation, China is insured against the fact that several states will put pressure on it at once (an anti-Chinese coalition will be created) with the inevitable attraction of a third force, that is, the United States, which have interests in the region and are interested in the role of arbitrator. To argue with each party separately for Beijing is much more profitable and calmer.
In a bilateral format, China makes compromises, but gradually pushes its interests. Moreover, China’s concessions are often indicative. In particular, there have already been several projects for joint exploration and production of gas and oil in disputed areas. But gradually, China cuts off competitors and becomes the main process manager. In addition, in recent years, a tendency has emerged in the APR on territorial issues to toughen the position of rival countries. All states, depending on the budget, are building up naval and air forces, conducting demonstrative military exercises, looking for allies.
To be continued ...