Why is Vietnam not merging with China?

South China Sea: War Threat in Nine Points

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Vacationers from the People's Republic of China stop operations at Vietnam's Mong Cai international border crossing. Up to 3,000 Chinese pass through here every day. But border officials have recently been rummaging through their passports to see if they contain a visa from a Vietnamese consulate. That would be fatal if it were one of the new travel documents of the People's Republic that have been in circulation since May 2012. The officials would have to stamp it invalid. They only allow the visitor to enter if the visa is issued on a separate sheet. This takes a while.

China's passport dispute with Vietnam and the Philippines has been fermenting since 2012, and has now broken out again. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague had denied the People's Republic the right to claim the entire South China Sea within a nine-dash line. The stumbling block was that precisely this dashed line is embossed in passports on pages 8, 24 and 46. Beijing has registered its claim to more than 80 percent of the 3.5 million square kilometer sea via the nine dash line. The boundary runs in a U-shape on the coast of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia and cuts their rights. Vietnam and the Philippines reject this demarcation. They have been doing this with even more emphasis since they got it right from The Hague.

Extended to the eleven point line

China's state news website "Pengpai" (The Paper) complained about the harassment at the border. The trouble with the passports is only a proxy conflict for the tensions that have increased after the arbitration award. China's government is heating it up. She condemned the verdict as "null and void", as a "political farce" behind which the US and Japan stand, and denounced the court as "biased and bribed". Beijing daily newspapers appeared the day after the verdict with ostentatious front pages depicting the nine dash line. The "Peking Morning Newspaper" even expanded it to form a "borderline with eleven dots".

In the beginning she was too. The spokeswoman for China's parliament, Fu Ying, and the internationally recognized expert on the law of the sea, Gao Zhiguo, explained the origin of the ominous demarcation according to Beijing's reading: After Japan's surrender in 1945, China's Kuomintang national government (KMT) had awarded all sea bases and islands in the South China Sea previously occupied by Tokyo to get. The basis was the agreements of the Allies in Cairo (1943) and Potsdam (1945). In 1947 the KMT Ministry of the Interior measured, registered and renamed 159 islands, reefs and sandbanks in the sea (according to Gao 172). The ministry had an internal atlas of territorial waters published and an "eleven-point line" drawn around it. Fu Ying writes that neither the US nor neighboring countries objected, although they "knew for sure. It is obvious that they recognized China's position on this."

In 1949 the People's Republic took over the claims over the sea as legal successor. She drew the nine dash line (nine and not eleven lines) around it after removing the last two "points" off Vietnam's coast and the Gulf of Tonkin in 1953. Because of the "good relationships" at the time, writes Gao Zhiguo.

Potential threat of war

China's claim to the nine-dash line around the South China Sea, from which it derives its entitlement to be able to do whatever it wants there, is now viewed by its neighboring states as a potential threat of war. Therefore, Beijing assures that the freedom of navigation for merchant shipping will not be affected and that it is ready to negotiate all problems bilaterally with the neighboring countries. But it also claims absolute ownership rights over all islands and waters.

To deter the neighboring countries and as a warning to the USA not to interfere, China organized three-day sea maneuvers in the South China Sea after the award. It had planes land on its reefs, which had been heaped up into artificial island platforms for two years, in the Nansha (Spratly) area and a bomber flew over them.

China is playing for time

No serious provocations are to be expected from Beijing. Despite the ruling, China wants to protect its current status and is only taking it step by step. It plays for time until it has enough influence and military strength to change the situation in its favor. It could be after 2020. On Friday, China's media published a new multilateral decision by the country's three most powerful bodies. The Central Committee, the Council of State and the Central Military Commission are modernizing their military doctrine. Instead of "balanced development of military and economic development", Beijing wants to develop the military and civilian economic development in a "dovetailed manner" by 2020. Integration should lead to more synergies and innovations for both areas. One of the "strategic goals" is to build a strong navy that can open up the oceans, defend its maritime power, and protect China's overseas interests.

"China Daily" revealed how far away China is in the South China Sea. She proudly announced the connection of the man-made islands of China, far more than 1,000 kilometers away, to the 4G Internet of Chinese Telecom as a sign of how deep China has gained a foothold in the sea. The engineers complained, however, that they would need 60 hours by boat to get to the islands from Hainan. They would have problems building a stable power supply for the 4G station and protecting it from corrosion on the reefs that are repeatedly flooded by seawater. (Johnny Erling from Beijing, July 29, 2016)