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CHINA'S MARITIME AGGRESSION IN THE CHINA & ANDAMAN SEAS



water cannons and axe attacks abound!
CHINESE COAST GUARD ATTACKS PHILIPPINE SHIP

"This archipelagic status is conferred through the UN, and only 22 nations claim it.

Spoiler alert: China is not one of them." Reuters


In recent years, China's assertive actions in the South China Sea, especially around the disputed islands in the Andaman Sea, have significantly strained its relations with neighboring countries like the Philippines and Vietnam. This aggression has not only heightened tensions in the region but has also drawn international attention to Beijing's expansive territorial claims and their impact on regional stability.



Philippines-China Maritime Disputes


A striking example of the conflict between China and the Philippines occurred recently. In June, a routine resupply mission by the Philippine military to its personnel stationed on a grounded warship, the BRP Sierra Madre, on the Second Thomas Shoal was aggressively intercepted by Chinese Coast Guard vessels. This confrontation led to a serious injury of a Filipino sailor, showcasing the precariousness of the situation. Despite agreements to "restore trust" and "rebuild confidence," substantial differences between the two nations remain.


In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China's expansive claims in the South China Sea had no legal basis, affirming the Philippines' sovereign rights within its exclusive economic zone. However, China has refused to accept the ruling, maintaining that its actions are lawful and professional. This defiance has led to repeated clashes, such as the incident at Second Thomas Shoal, raising concerns about potential escalations into larger conflicts involving the United States, which has a mutual defense treaty with the Philippines.



Vietnam's Response to Chinese Aggression


Vietnam has also experienced considerable friction with China over the South China Sea. In response to China's aggressive activities, including the new law allowing the Chinese Coast Guard to seize foreign ships, Vietnam has accelerated its land reclamation efforts on disputed islands in the Spratly Archipelago. According to a report by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Vietnam has constructed nearly 280 hectares of new land in these areas in less than a year.


This rapid expansion is a strategic move to strengthen Vietnam’s presence and defenses against potential Chinese aggression. Hanoi's actions are in stark contrast to China’s vast reclamation and militarization projects, highlighting Vietnam's need to secure its claims and support its fishermen and maritime activities.



International Diplomatic Efforts and Concerns


The international community has taken notice of the rising tensions. Calls for a peaceful resolution, such as those from the Vatican's foreign minister during his visit to Manila, emphasize adherence to international law. The United States has also voiced its support for the Philippines, reaffirming that any armed attack on Philippine vessels in the South China Sea would trigger defense obligations.


However, diplomatic efforts have had limited success in curbing China's actions. While the Philippines and China have agreed to explore cooperation between their coast guards and engage in scientific collaborations, these efforts have not yet translated into tangible de-escalation. The continued provocations, such as the aggressive maneuvers by the Chinese Coast Guard, underline the fragile nature of these agreements.



Conclusion


China’s aggressive territorial claims and assertive actions in the South China Sea, particularly affecting the Philippines and Vietnam, underscore a significant regional and international dilemma. The repeated confrontations and China's refusal to abide by international rulings present a complex challenge for diplomatic resolutions. As tensions persist, the potential for miscalculations and escalations remains high, threatening regional stability and highlighting the urgent need for effective, multilateral conflict management mechanisms.



FURTHER NOTES:


It is estimated that over 80% of world trade travels through the South China Sea, which is an estimated that about 5.3 trillion dollars worth of commercial goods (China Power, 2016).


"Andaman Nicobar Basin is located between two proven petroliferous basins - Myanmar in north and Sumatra in south," he said while stating that fresh seismic surveys have upwardly revised the estimated reserves from 180 million tonnes of oil and oil equivalent gas to 610 million tonnes of oil and oil equivalent gas.May 20, 2003. Rigzone.com

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