Chinese, Vietnamese Communist parties have ‘shared destiny’: Beijing


BEIJING (Reuters) – China and Vietnam’s Communist parties have a “shared destiny” and there is great potential for bilateral economic cooperation, a senior Beijing official said on Tuesday on a visit to Vietnam, which has clashed with China over the South China Sea.

Although both nations are under Communist rule, they are deeply suspicious of each other and relations have been strained over the past few years because of disputes in the strategic South China Sea.

China has appeared uneasy at Vietnamese efforts to rally Southeast Asian countries over the busy swathe of sea as well as at its neighbor’s growing defense ties with the United States, Japan and India.

In July, under pressure from Beijing, Vietnam suspended oil drilling in offshore waters that are also claimed by China.

However, Hanoi and Beijing have also tried to prevent tensions from getting out of control, and senior officials from two countries make fairly regular visits to each other.

Liu Yunshan, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s elite Standing Committee that runs the country, told Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi, in the first such high level visit since relations deteriorated in July, that the two parties “constitute a community of shared destiny with strategic significance”, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

“The sound and stable development of the bilateral ties will help to solidify the ruling position of the two parties, which is in the interests of the two parties and people of the two nations,” Xinhua cited Liu as saying.

“The two economies are highly complementary, with huge potential for practical cooperation,” the report quoted him as saying.

Phuc told Liu that two countries should strive to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and avoid all activities that could increase tension, the Vietnamese government news website reported.

He also urged China to “have substantial discussions soon” with Southeast Asian nations to reach a code of conduct in the disputed sea, the report said.

While both the Chinese and Vietnamese reports made no direction mention of the South China Sea by Liu, they quoted him as suggesting the two countries “properly manage and control their divergences, so as to create favorable environment for bilateral cooperation”.

China claims nearly all the South China Sea, through which an estimated $3 trillion in international trade passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan also have claims.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen in Hanoi; Editing by Michael Perry/Mark Heinrich

Source: Reuters “Chinese, Vietnamese Communist parties have ‘shared destiny’: Beijing”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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Vietnam protests over Chinese live-fire drills in South China Sea


HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam on Tuesday issued a strong condemnation of Chinese military live-fire exercises in the disputed South China Sea, amid rising tension between the two countries.

The Maritime Safety Administration of China’s southern province of Hainan, which oversees the South China Sea, said last month there would be live fire drills around the Paracel Islands, which Vietnam claims, until September 2.

“Vietnam strongly objects this action by China and seriously requests China to respect Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagos,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement.

“Vietnam once again asserts that (we) will resolutely protect our sovereignty and our legitimate rights and interests in the East Sea (South China Sea) through peaceful measures that are suitable with international laws,” the statement said.

China claims nearly all the South China Sea, through which an estimated $3 trillion in international trade passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan also have claims.

Tension between China and neighboring Vietnam is at its highest in three years over the disputed waters.

Vietnam suspended oil drilling in offshore waters that are also claimed by China in July under pressure from Beijing.

China has appeared uneasy at Vietnam’s efforts to rally Southeast Asian countries over the South China Sea as well as at its growing defense relationships with the United States, Japan and India.

Reporting by Mai Nguyen

Source: Reuters “Vietnam protests over Chinese live-fire drills in South China Sea”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Does Vietnam Repent, Want to Bury Hatchet with China?


Vietnam’s General Secretary of the Communist Party and National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong talks to media after he casts his vote for members of the 14th National Assembly and People’s Councils at a polling station in Hanoi, Vietnam May 22, 2016. Photo: Kham

After the Vietnam-China standoff due to the drilling of a Chinese oil rig at disputed sea, Nguyen Phu Trong was re-elected as head of Vietnamese communist party and began détente with China.

However, Vietnam’s drilling in disputed waters through its joint venture with Spain and others was recently stopped by China as China put pressure on Spain. No wonder, Vietnam was upset and “has emerged as the most vocal opponent of China’s claims in the South China Sea,” says Reuters in its report “Vietnam calls for Southeast Asian unity amid South China Sea tension” yesterday.

Unfortunately, according to Reuters, Vietnam “has appeared increasingly isolated (in ASEAN) in challenging China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea”.

Now, in Trong’s first visit to Indonesia, he made a speech on the necessity for ASEAN to be unified in resolving territorial disputes.

Did he mean unity against China? Not likely, Reuters says in its report Vietnam is isolated in challenging China in its disputes with China. It means ASEAN’s other members oppose Vietnam’s challenge.

Reuters quotes Trong as saying, “Do not let ASEAN become a playing card for the competition among major countries”. Trong did not identify the major countries but it is very clear Trong meant China and the United States.

It seems that Trong wanted to explain that though Vietnam is improving relations with the US, it does not want to become a playing card of the United States.

Does Trong want to resume détente with China?

Will Vietnam cooperate with China in exploiting the oil and gas resources in the South China Sea like the Philippines?

Those are very interesting questions that we may soon find answers.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be found at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-vietnam-idUSKCN1B4099


Drilling ship leaves Vietnam oil block after China row


Matthew Tostevin August 14, 2017 / 11:20 AM

HANOI (Reuters) – The drilling ship at the center of a row between Vietnam and China over oil prospecting in disputed waters in the South China Sea has arrived in waters off the Malaysian port of Labuan, shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon showed on Monday.

Drilling by the Deepsea Metro I ship was suspended in Vietnam’s Block 136/3 last month after pressure from China, which says the concession operated by Spain’s Repsol overlaps the vast majority of the waterway that it claims as its own.

The ship, used by Norway’s Odfjell Drilling Ltd., was reported to be in Labuan at 9.17 a.m. (0117 GMT), according to shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon. It was last recorded at the drilling site on July 30.

Odfjell Drilling did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The row over the drilling inflamed tensions between Vietnam and China, whose claims in the South China Sea are disputed by five Southeast Asian countries.

Repsol said last month that drilling had been suspended after the company spent $27 million on the well. Co-owners of the block are Vietnam’s state oil firm and Mubadala Development Co of the United Arab Emirates.

The block lies inside the U-shaped “nine-dash line” that marks the area that China claims in the sea.

China had urged a halt to the exploration work and a diplomatic source with direct knowledge of the situation said that the decision to suspend drilling was taken after a Vietnamese delegation visited Beijing.

Vietnam has never confirmed that drilling started or that it was suspended, but last month defended its right to explore in the area.

Vietnam has emerged as the most vocal opponent of Chinese claims in the South China Sea, where more than $3 trillion in cargo passes every year, and China was also angered by Vietnam’s stand at a regional meeting last week.

Vietnam held out for language that noted concern about island-building and criticized militarization in South China Sea in the communique from foreign ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Reporting by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Richard Pullin

Source: Reuters “Drilling ship leaves Vietnam oil block after China row”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Vietnam says others should respect its right to drill for South China Sea oil


HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam on Friday said other countries should respect its legitimate right to drill for oil in its waters amid growing tension with China over energy development in the South China Sea.

The drilling began in mid-June in Vietnam’s Block 136/3, which is licensed to Vietnam’s state oil firm, Spain’s Repsol and Mubadala Development Co [MUDEV.UL] of the United Arab Emirates.

The block lies inside the U-shaped “nine-dash line” that marks the vast area that China claims in the sea and overlaps what it says are its own oil concessions.

China on Tuesday urged a halt to the drilling.

“Vietnam’s petroleum-related activities take place in the sea entirely under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of Vietnam established in accordance with international law,” Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement sent to Reuters.

“Vietnam proposes all concerned parties to respect the legitimate rights and interests of Vietnam.”

This week, the BBC reported that Vietnam had halted drilling there after Chinese threats, but there was no independent confirmation and neither Vietnamese officials nor Repsol made any comment on the report.

Thomson Reuters data showed the drilling ship Deepsea Metro I was in the same position on Friday as it had been since drilling began on the block in the middle of June.

China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

Reporting by My Pham; Editing by Nick Macfie

Source: Reuters “Vietnam says others should respect its right to drill for South China Sea oil”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China urges halt to oil drilling in disputed South China Sea


BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Foreign Ministry has urged a halt to oil drilling in a disputed part of the South China Sea, where Spanish oil company Repsol had been operating in cooperation with Vietnam.

Drilling began in mid-June in Vietnam’s Block 136/3, which is licensed to Vietnam’s state oil firm, Spain’s Repsol and Mubadala Development Co of the United Arab Emirates.

The block lies inside the U-shaped ‘nine-dash line’ that marks the vast area that China claims in the sea and overlaps what it says are its own oil concessions.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China had indisputable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, which China calls the Nansha islands, and jurisdiction over the relevant waters and seabed.

“China urges the relevant party to cease the relevant unilateral infringing activities and with practical actions safeguard the hard-earned positive situation in the South China Sea,” Lu said at a regular briefing, when asked if China had pressured Vietnam or the Spanish company to stop drilling.

He did not elaborate.

This week the BBC reported that Vietnam had halted drilling there after Chinese threats, but there was no independent confirmation and neither Vietnamese officials nor Repsol made any comment on the report.

Thomson Reuters data showed the drilling ship Deepsea Metro I was in the same position on Monday as it had been since drilling began on the block in the middle of June.

An Indonesian naval ship that passed there on Saturday reported that three coastguard vessels and two Vietnamese fishing boats were nearby and there was no sign of trouble.

The Norwegian drilling ship operator, Odfjell Drilling Ltd., did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

China’s naval build-up and its increasingly assertive stance over disputed territory in the South China Sea have unnerved its neighbors.

The United States has criticized China’s construction of islands and military facilities there, concerned they could be used to restrict free movement and extend Beijing’s strategic reach.

Reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing and Matthew Tostevin in Bangkok; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Source: Reuters “China urges halt to oil drilling in disputed South China Sea”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Asserting sovereignty, Indonesia renames part of South China Sea


Indonesia’s Deputy Minister for Maritime Affairs Arif Havas Oegroseno points at the location of North Natuna Sea on a new map of Indonesia during talks with reporters in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 14, 2017. Photo: Beawiharta

Tom Allard and Bernadette Christina Munthe July 14, 2017

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia renamed the northern reaches of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea on Friday, the latest act of resistance by Southeast Asian nations to China’s territorial ambitions in the maritime region.

Seen by analysts as an assertion of Indonesian sovereignty, part of the renamed sea is claimed by China under its contentious maritime boundary, known as the ‘nine-dash line’, that encompasses most of the resource-rich sea.

Several Southeast Asian states dispute China’s territorial claims and are competing with China to exploit the South China Sea’s abundant hydrocarbon and fishing resources. China has raised the ante by deploying military assets on artificial islands constructed on shoals and reefs in disputed parts of the sea.

Indonesia insists it’s a non-claimant state in the South China Sea dispute but has clashed with China over fishing rights around the Natuna Islands, detaining Chinese fishermen and expanding its military presence in the area over the past 18 months.

Unveiling the new official map, the deputy of maritime sovereignty at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Arif Havas Oegroseno, noted the northern side of its exclusive economic zone was the site of oil and gas activity.

“We want to update the naming of the sea [and] we gave a new name in line with the usual practice: the North Natuna Sea,” he told reporters.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he didn’t know anything about the details of the issue, but said the name South China Sea had broad international recognition and clear geographic limits.

“Certain countries’ so-called renaming is totally meaningless,” he told a daily news briefing. “We hope the relevant country can meet China halfway and properly maintain the present good situation in the South China Sea region, which has not come easily.”

‘Clear Message’

I Made Andi Arsana, an expert on the Law of the Sea from Indonesia’s Universitas Gadjah Mada, said the renaming carried no legal force but was a political and diplomatic statement.

“It will be seen as a big step by Indonesia to state its sovereignty,” he told Reuters. “It will send a clear message, both to the Indonesian people and diplomatically speaking.”

Euan Graham, director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute, said Indonesia’s action followed renewed resistance to Chinese territorial claims by other Southeast Asian states.

“This will be noticed in Beijing,” he said.

Last week, Vietnam extended an Indian oil concession off its coast while a joint venture led by state-owned PetroVietnam commenced drilling further south. China has a territorial claim in both areas.

Meanwhile, the director of the Philippines Energy Resource Development Bureau, Ismael Ocampo, said on Wednesday that the country could lift a suspension on oil and gas drilling on the Reed Bank by December. The underwater mountain, lying 85 nautical miles off the Philippines coast, is also claimed by China.

Exploration activity was suspended in late 2014 as the Philippines sought an international ruling on China’s territorial claim. The Philippines won the case in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague one year ago.

China refused to recognize the decision. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office on June 30 last year, expressed reluctance about enforcing the decision at the time, as he sought deeper diplomatic and economic ties with China.

However, the Philippines lately has become more assertive about its sovereignty.

More than two dozen oil, gas and coal blocks, including additional areas in disputed waters, may be offered during the December bidding, Ocampo said on Wednesday.

Reporting by Tom Allard and Bernadette Christina Munthe; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Bill Tarrant

Source: Reuters “Asserting sovereignty, Indonesia renames part of South China Sea”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.