By Red Pill  |  09-07-2017   News
Photo credit: Hongkiat

Due to pressures from potential threats after North Korea detonated its 1 Megaton Thermonuclear Warhead, the United States has been distracted from China.

America has focused heavily on Kim Jong Un’s Nuclear ambitions in North Korea, while China has been continuously expanding its disputed territory in the South China Sea.

Just this past month, a Philippine politician released photos that he claims show Chinese fishing, coast guard, and navy vessels surrounding a Philippine-occupied isle in the Spratly chain of islands, which are intended to prevent new plans to repair a runway.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">North Korea&#39;s dual use deterrent. It is North Korea, by far, that faces the greatest threat from a rising China. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DPRK?src=hash">#DPRK</a> <a href="https://t.co/TcQngBBZLS">pic.twitter.com/TcQngBBZLS</a></p>&mdash; Julian Assange 🔹 (@JulianAssange) <a href="https://twitter.com/JulianAssange/status/905817274363387904">September 7, 2017</a></blockquote>

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Back in July of this past year, Vietnam halted its drilling in an area which was leased to Spain’s Repsol SA after multiple reports came to the surface that the Chinese were stressing the Vietnam to do so.

While China is currently taking advantage of a the turmoil occurring in Southeast Asia under President Donald Trump between America and North Korea, they're doing so by expanding their grip onto the region whole the media is distracted.

While the US maintaining a “freedom of navigation” naval operation in the South China Sea they're also attempting to test China’s claims of ownership to the disputed territory.

A United States Navy Rear Admiral recently criticized Beijing for its attempts to dominate land and sea which doesn't belong to the sleeping dragon, and the fire breathing intensity of China's own growth serves as a reason for the suggestion.

President Trump has not yet been able to prevent China's expansion, and due to North Korea there hasn't been much discussion at all on the matter to begin with.

The fact of the matter is that without the United States leading the charge, other Southeast Asian nations are afraid to begin to challenge China on their own.

As long as the United States remains preoccupied in the Middle East as well, China will continue to expand its presence in the South China Sea giving it a strategic advantage in the future if necessary.

“China knows that Trump is very focused on North Korea and not too worried about Southeast Asia,” said Jay L. Batongbacal, Director of the Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea at the University of the Philippines. “There is a willingness on their part to push things as far as they can.”

Most will remember that tensions reached an all time high in mid-2014 when China dragged an oil rig into waters that were claimed by Vietnam. After an international outcry, Beijing withdrew the oil rig but they indeed tested their boundaries.

In 2005 an agreement was reached to share the area’s resources, but that expired in 2008, and both the Philippines and Vietnam opposed China’s “nine-dash line”, which are marks on a map covering more than 80 percent of the South China Sea which China claims as it's own.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has pushed for more discussion between Beijing and Manila, which are now negotiating a deal for the Sampaguita gas field at Reed Bank.

Without initial support from the United States or its neighbors, Vietnam may be unable to push back against China’s efforts to drill in other areas across the Pacific, hence allowing China a victory by default.

Vietnam has also expressed concern over a United States withdrawal in the region. “We are watching them with worry,” said Tran Viet Thai, a Deputy Director General at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam in Hanoi.

China’s remains driven to push exploration that will bring economic fortunes together and takes the focus off strategic ambitions of opposing nations.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano in Manila net with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi back in July and said that joint exploration was an idea “full of political wisdom.”

The Energy Information Administration back in 2013 determined that the South China Sea has about 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas beneath it, something of a conglomerate powerhouse for the nation which controls it.

However both Philippines, Vietnam, and China have raised tensions over what's known as exploration block 136-03, which is located 350 miles southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, an area China calls Wanan Bei-21 claiming it belongs to them.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The effect of the US conflict is to provide political cover. China might invade if nuke program on its border was said to be to deter China.</p>&mdash; Julian Assange 🔹 (@JulianAssange) <a href="https://twitter.com/JulianAssange/status/905819913771769856">September 7, 2017</a></blockquote>

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Back in 1994, Chinese warships blocked a Vietnamese oil rig from its intentions to drill in the area.

Two decades later in 2011 Vietnam claimed a Chinese fishing boat had rammed a PetroVietnam ship while it was performing a seismic survey.

The BBC reported that in July Vietnam had terminated its own drilling by Repsol “following strong threats from China.”

Repsol confirmed that such a suspension occurred but later said it would not comment further as to the reasons behind it.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China urged the Vietnam to stop its “unilateral actions that infringe upon China’s rights.”

Vietnam has in return also asked China to stop military drills in the Gulf of Tonkin and act in accordance with international laws for the region, according to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement on the ministry’s website.

“It will be critical to watch how China responds to other drilling activities,” said M. Taylor Fravel, who's an Associate Professor of Political Science at MIT and a member of the Board of Directors for the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

Vietnam in the last have issued blocks to China’s claims which involve Exxon Mobil Corp., Murphy Oil Corp. and KrisEnergy Ltd. and many other American assets.

KrisEnergy spokeswoman Tanya Pang said the company has no current drilling activity in the area. Murphy Oil did not respond to a request for comment.

“We are not conducting drilling operations and have not received any similar such request,” Exxon spokesman Aaron M. Stryk said in an emailed statement. “At this time, we are working very constructively with our partners and the government of Vietnam to develop the Ca Voi Xanh field.”

The Foreign Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China have now endorsed a new found code of conduct in the South China Sea.

Exploration done in the future must be in accordance with Philippine law “would be a constructive development for future foreign relations within Southeast Asia,” said Albert del Rosario, a former Philippine Foreign Secretary. “Respect for the rule of law by China would be welcomed not only by ASEAN but by the responsible community of nations.”

Currently however such a lack of public comment from Vietnam on Block 136-03 signifies that “it’s not a good time to rock the boat,” said Collin Koh at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

“There is a growing uneasiness about China and the way it has been behaving in the region,” said Koh. Still, for now, “Vietnam sees that it has to give the code of conduct a chance to work.”

Source:

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/09/06/asia-pacific/world-watches-kim-china-quietly-builds-south-china-sea-clout/#.WbFq7tOGORs

—<i>[email protected]</i>

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