Escalating South China Sea Confrontation: Is It Covering up China’s Domestic Crisis?
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
has escalated tension with neighboring
countries around the South China Sea.
The Philippines has detained Chinese fishing boats
Conflict between Vietnamese and
Chinese vessels has resulted injuries.
No party has shown signs of compromising.
Commentators point out that the CCP is faced
with intensified conflicts both at home and abroad.
To maintain it’s regime, the CCP has to shift public
attention from domestic crises to neighboring countries.
On May 7, Chinese vessels rammed into
and fired water cannons at Vietnamese
vessels, injuring the Vietnamese sailors.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Vietnam
had previously tried to prevent the deployment
of a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters.
The vessel collision took place about 10 miles from the rig.
Vietnam says the rig is 138 miles from its shore
and entirely within its exclusive economic zone.
Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign
Minister Pham Binh Minh called Chinese State
Councilor Yang Jiechi to criticize drilling operations.
Minh denounced the presence of China’s drilling rig as
illegal, and in serious violation of Vietnamese sovereignty.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman
Hua Chunying accused Vietnam of
interfering in China’s oil production activities.
Hua Chunying said Vietnam violated international
laws, and basic norms of international relations.
Hua Chunying further commented that Yang Jiechi
requested Vietnam to stop interfering in Chinese
enterprises’ normal operations over the phone.
According to Chinese media, China has
sent 80 more vessels to the disputed waters
On May 4, a Guangdong maritime police boat
collided with the Vietnam Marine Police boat.
This resulted in damage of parts of the
Vietnamese boat and it’s equipment.
On May 7, as the Chinese maritime police
ship hit the Vietnam ship, a Chinese airplane
was also present to support the action.
Currently, the Chinese maritime police boats are ready
to fire with ready guns, and the situation is very tense.
Lan Shu, political commentator: “Vietnam
has very similar political rule as the CCP.
However, it still engages in such conflict with
China, meaning the CCP is in a desperate situation.
With sharp domestic conflicts, the CCP is
faced with internal conflicts within the party.
With lack of resolution, the CCP has to divert
Chinese peoples focus to neighboring countries.”
On the same day, The Philippines detained a
Chinese fishing boat in the disputed Spratly Islands.
This included it’s 11 crew members and a cargo of
approximately 500 sea turtles, some of which had died.
The Philippines said that some turtle
species are protected under their laws.
The vessel had been dragged to
Palawan Province to face charges.
Mainland China has also faced it’s own escalating conflicts.
There have been large scale human rights groups activities.
Three provinces have also witnessed public attacks
or bombs in railway stations during the past two months.
Professor Xia Ming, Political Science,
New York City University: “The CCP felt panic
due to difficult conditions domestically and with
foreign affairs, as well as their mutual impact.
The regimes oppressive nature domestically has
reduced the trust from the international community.
Ultimately, they abandon China, and subsequently there
are increased domestic economic and political crises.
The tough measures that the CCP has
employed, I believe, is making it worse.”
Lan Shu: “They need the scapegoat to
try to resolve conflict in Chinese society.
Whoever loses in the internal
fighting will become the scapegoat.
The most critical question is who
grasps control of the military.
The sharp conflicts within the CCP are
causing it to fall apart, and also possibly
result in war with neighboring countries.”
The Wall Street Journal added
further comment to recent events.
A naval confrontation between China and Vietnam, over
China’s attempts to anchor a giant oil rig in disputed
waters, is by far the most serious episode in recent
years between the two historically entwined neighbors.
Yet, Vietnam is a tough adversary, as French and later
U.S. forces in Indo-China found out to their immense cost.
China and Vietnam are now brothers
in a dwindling socialist fraternity of nations.
The Vietnamese government cannot
be seen to be bowing to China.
And modern Chinese leaders have staked much
of their credibility in upholding their “indisputable
sovereignty" over the South China Sea.
Professor Xia Ming indicates that it
is possible to misfire in this situation.
Nationalist sentiment is escalating in
China, Vietnam and The Philippines.
Interview & Edit/Liuhui Post-Production/Lizhiyuan