Hanoi behind all the trouble
Updated: 2014-05-24 08:03
By Ruan Zongze (China Daily)
Vietnam has harmed its economy and global image by taking provocative actions against China and instigating racial riots
Anti-China protests in Vietnam turned deadly last week amid the Sino-Vietnamese maritime standoff over China's placement of an oil rig in waters south of Zhongjian Island of China's Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. Running out of control, the looters and arsonists not only targeted Chinese nationals and companies but also South Korean, Singaporean and other foreign-owned factories, inflicting damage to some 400 factories and forcing another 1,100 to shut down.
Vietnam, however, has shown the rest of the world how novel its crisis management is. When the anti-China protests spread, Hanoi mouthed its readiness to quell the riot on one hand but continued to use politics to fan anti-China sentiments on the other. The spokesman for Vietnam's Foreign Ministry, Le Hai Binh, even argued at a press briefing that it was "legitimate and natural" for the protesters to manifest patriotism and determination to protect national sovereignty, following the killing of Chinese nationals in the anti-China violence.
Over the past weeks, Hanoi has been claiming that China's oil rig is placed within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and China's drilling activities infringe on Vietnam's sovereignty. It also has launched a publicity campaign at home and beyond peddling itself as a victim bullied by China.
The fact, however, is quite the opposite. The oil rig was operated by China's National Offshore Oil Corporation in waters only 17 nautical miles (31.4 kilometers) south of Zhongjian Island of China's Xisha Islands and about 150 nautical miles from Vietnam's coast. Besides, operations like the latest one, which is being conducted within China's contiguous zone, actually started 10 years ago and just in May and June last year, a three-dimensional seismic operation and well site survey was conducted by the Chinese company in these waters.
Since China's placement of the oil rig on May 2, Vietnam has dispatched a large number of vessels to the waters near the drilling site, instigating collision with Chinese ships and interfering with the normal operations of the Chinese oil company. So far, Hanoi has sent more than 60 vessels, including armed ones, to the waters near the oil rig. And between May 3 and May 21, the Vietnamese vessels deliberately rammed the Chinese ships more than 700 times. The Vietnamese side also employed Frogmen and cast fishing nets and other obstacles in these waters, posing serious security threat to the Chinese vessels and facilities.
In the course of the standoff, China has exercised restraint in the face of Vietnam's provocation. Despite that, Hanoi has relentlessly tried to woo international opinion to its side by inviting local and foreign media onboard to observe the standoff, while intentionally enticing Chinese ships to fight back in order to substantiate its story of being bullied by China.