FOREIGN AFFAIRS: by Dr C.T. Bui OAMNews Weekly
Vietnamese clash with Beijing over South China Sea
, July 9, 2011
In recent weeks, thousand of anti-China protesters, with flags and banners, have massed in Seattle, Houston, Calgary and Melbourne to demonstrate against what they see as bullying behaviour by Beijing in an escalating row over control of the South China Sea.
The 1.7 million square km South China Sea is crossed by key shipping lanes and is believed to hold potentially large oil and gas reserves. Apart from mainland China and Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have also laid claims to parts of this sea.
Vietnamese demonstrators waved flags, sang patriotic songs and chanted “Down with China!” and “The Spratlys and Paracels belong to Vietnam”, referring to archipelagos in the South China Sea.
These protests will be expanded to Vietnamese communities in countries in Europe such as Norway, Denmark, France, Holland and Germany.
China and Vietnam have long-standing maritime disputes in the South China Sea.
Vietnam lodged a protest when Chinese vessels on May 26 damaged cables and equipment in use by a Vietnamese survey ship within Vietnam’s 370km exclusive maritime zone. The Vietnamese government said a further incident took place on June 9, blaming China for violating its sovereignty.
Since the end of May, China has conducted a propaganda barrage, accusing Hanoi of raising tensions in the region.
On June 17, as reported by the French press agency AFP, a Vietnamese fishing boat from Quang Ngai province was harassed in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, and all their fish and fishing gear were confiscated. Similar incidents have happened over the last two years, with the sinking of fishing boats, and the killing or capturing of crew members.
Sometimes these captives have had to pay a ransom to get released and retrieve their gear. Until recently, the Vietnamese communist authorities did not stand up and defend their people and all protests were forbidden.
However, in recent weeks in Vietnam, public protests have taken place in Hanoi and Saigon. Vietnamese authorities have tolerated these anti-China protests which were reported by the media in the United States, Australia (SBS TV), TV Euro News, the Financial Times, the Malaysian Insider and other media outlets.
History reveals that during the Vietnam War, on September 14, 1958, the then Prime Minister of communist-controlled North Vietnam, Pham Van Dong, wrote to Zhou Enlai, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), affirming the sovereignty of China over the Paracel and Spratly Islands. In January 1974, one year before the end of the Vietnam War, when the Paracels were controlled by the anti-communist Republic of Vietnam, based in Saigon, China attacked the South Vietnamese navy and seized the islands.
In 1988 the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) asserted its control over the Spratly Islands.
While the Chinese people respect and follow the teachings of Confucius, Beijing has never abandoned its policy of expansion into neighbouring countries. The invasion of the Paracel and Spratly Islands is an example.
In addition to this, Chinese navy ships continue to sink Vietnamese fishing boats, and kill Vietnamese fishermen near these islands. Chinese navy ships have also blocked Vietnamese expeditions from researching natural resources.
The Vietnamese living overseas are very disappointed that, while innocent citizens are being killed, and natural resources, land and exclusive economic zones at sea are being invaded by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Vietnamese Communist Party can only show cowardice through its weak protests. The Vietnamese Communist Party has debased itself, shamelessly conceding land and sea, selling off national resources, and selling its own people into slavery.
In addition to that, the Hanoi regime increases political repression, and continues to imprison or keep under house-arrest intellectuals, writers and artists as well as the common people who express their anger at the predations of the Communist Party.
The overseas Vietnamese are very concerned that in Vietnam, violence, intimidation, deprivation, deceit and backwardness continue, with a total disregard for the people’s rights.
The Vietnamese Communist Party must step down, leaving the fight against Beijing to the Vietnamese people living overseas and in Vietnam.
Dr Cuong Trong Bui, OAM MD, is a former federal president of the Vietnamese Community in Australia.
Map caption: Map of the South China Sea. The area claimed by China is marked by black dashes.