Tension Rising in the South China Sea – Chinese Threatens to Board Ships, India and Vietnam Respond

Tensions are rising in the South China Sea, where at least a half dozen nations are asserting a jumble of overlapping claims of sovereignty, fishing and mineral rights.  China is now ramping up their claims by announcing that as of January 1st of next year, authorities in the Chinese province of Hainan will board and seize control of foreign ships which they consider to have violated China’s expansive claim of territorial waters in the South China Sea. Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the Chinese plan was a “very serious turn of events”.

India and Vietnam have both responded by threatening to deploy naval patrols to protect their vessels operating in the contested region.  Vietnam has complained of Chinese interference with oil exploration operations and fishing. Vietnam has announced marine patrols of their own in the disputed waters which will begin on January 25th. India’s Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi  has also announced that India will deploy naval assets to protect its interests in the region.

The Next Global Hotspot to Worry About

Earlier this year we posted about a standoff between China and the Philippines over fishing rights on the Scarborough Shoal, a series of islands and an atoll, which is claimed by the Philippines, China and Taiwan.

In September a dispute between China and Japan over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea resulted in anti-Japanese protests across China.

Thanks to  Brian Quinn for contributing to this post.

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One Response to Tension Rising in the South China Sea – Chinese Threatens to Board Ships, India and Vietnam Respond

  1. Count D. Peter Boucher, Kt. SMOM, MN (Ret.) says:

    During the time that NAUTICAL LOG was published several Posts were written on this subject. Currently a white paper of some 20,000 words (so far) on the South China Sea and East China sea is being written privately. For some time now the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has set sea boundaries which are in complete violation of International Maritime Law. Since they have also built numerous warships which are operated by the PLAN, Coast Guard, Chinese Maritime Surveillance Agency, and Chinese Fisheries Agency they have the option to enforce their rules by various degrees of military and paramilitary muscle. The counter claims by other bordering nations are in some cases equally ridiculous one would draw attention to Brunei for example. As long as vessels keep more than 12 nautical miles off the coast they are generally in International Waters and have the complete Right of Innocent Passage under International Maritime Law. Even within the 12 nm the Right of Innocent Passage exists. One would suggest keeping 15 nm off coastlines where possible, if approached and challenged by any of these PRC armed forces one should transmit on all available communications suitable PAN, PAN, PAN messages. Should any next level action take place then transmit MAYDAY messages. One speaks from dealing with two Cuban patrol boats (pieces of marine junk actually) back in the 1980’s when they were harassing vessels in the Old Bahama Channel. This current PRC action is most likely in conjunction with the appointment of the new leadership regime in the PRC flexing its muscle Chinese style, if seriously challenged they will usually steady down somewhat and see what happens. These actions are usually to impress the home front and really mean rather little in the realism of international politics. Which brings us to the lack of a firm standing no nonsense foreign policy by the current U. S. Administration as at present no one is really impressed never mind intimidated by the U.S. so we may be in trouble.

    Good Watch.