Vietnam lodged protest
Two China fishing boats blocked Vietnam’s exploration vessel—Binh Minh 2—while in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. Vietnam accused a China fishing boat of cutting its vessel’s seismic cable. This childish act is not new. Beijing used that trick before in May 2011 when cable from the same vessel Binh Minh 2 was cut by China boats.
This latest bully act from Beijing occurred after a recent announcement by Hainan province that Chinese vessels would board and search ships in disputed areas of South China Sea—containing important shipping lanes of more than a third of global trade moves.
Vietnam lodged an official protest with China Embassy in Hanoi.
India vowed to protect its interests in East Sea
Vietnam operates several joint ventures with India in oil and gas exploration in its territory in East Sea/South China Sea—prompting India to consider sending navy vessels to protect its interests in the South China Sea. Admiral D.K. Joshi, head of Indian navy, told reporters India was prepared to send navy vessels to East Sea.
What will India’s next move be?
When will India send navy vessels to South China Sea?
China and its energy dependency on Middle East
It’s well documented that China views South China Sea and the vast oil resources lying beneath it as a way to get off dependency on the Middle East for oil imports. In 2011, the Middle East supplied 51% of oil imports to China. Saudi Arabia supplied 20% of China’s oil import.
It’s also well documented that history proved that China’s claim of South China Sea came in the 1940s. In 1904, China’s map did not include any part of South China Sea.
China’s recent bully acts come less than a month after Xi Jinping took power in Beijing and a month after President Obama’s election. Whether this is Xi Jinping’s confirmation of his foreign policy in Asia-Pacific or a challenge to Obama’s pivot to Asia program remains unclear.
It will be interesting to see if the U.S. will react should the situation escalate further.