China’s Coast Guard Shows Up at Vanguard Bank Again

Sandra Loyd

Less than a week after China sent out a study vessel into Vietnamese waters, vessel-tracking software application shows that the China Coast Guard has actually appeared at Vanguard Bank, an understood South China Sea flashpoint in between Vietnam and China.

The coastguard ship came within 30 nautical miles of a Vietnamese oil well, and its abrupt arrival might be connected to energy expedition Vietnam is preparing to carry out in the location. Its existence runs the risk of a repeat of an extended standoff in between the 2 Asian powers that played out in this challenged, southern area of the South China Sea in the second half of in 2015.

The China Coast Guard (CCG) ship 5402 left the port of Sanya, situated in China’s Hainan province, on July 1. It stopped at Subi Reef, among China’s biggest synthetic islands in the Spratly Islands, on July 2. It consequently cruised north of Vanguard Bank, within 200 nautical miles of Vietnam’s coast, on July 4, and is currently patrolling right on top of the bank, which is an entirely immersed function.

Andrew Scobell, a senior political researcher for the U.S.-based RAND Corporation and a teacher at Marine Corps University, stated this was most likely another episode in China’s long-running campaign to push other complaintants in the South China Sea, without running the risk of full- blown dispute.

“Many Chinese Coast Guard vessels are a lot bigger than many of the ships in most Southeast Asian navies. They’re pretty damn intimidating, they do ram fishing boats, and they act like naval vessels,” he stated in an interview.

“This is all about, from a Chinese perspective, promoting their interests in the South China Sea, strengthening their claims, using all instruments of national power, and at the same time avoiding escalation,” he continued.

The Vanguard Bank is challenged in between Vietnam and China, and lies off Vietnam’s southern coast. In July 2019, a CCG contingent accompanied a Chinese study vessel operating within Vietnam’s waters around the immersed function, triggering diplomatic protest and a tense, months-long standoff in between the Chinese and vietnamese coastguards.

Prior to this brand-new CCG release at Vanguard Bank, China sent out a study vessel, the Hai Yang Di Zhi 4, into Vietnam’s unique financial zone on June 30– in an area approximately 165 nautical miles northeast of where the CCG 5402 is now. That attack triggered an action by a U.S. marine ship, the USS Gabrielle Giffords, and a Vietnamese coastguard vessel.

The U.S. Navy published an image of both vessels near the Hai Yang Di Zhi 4 on July 1. The U.S. and Vietnamese existence might have discouraged the Chinese vessel from starting any study within Vietnamese waters, as the Hai Yang Di Zhi 4 left and is back in its home port in China’s Guangdong province since July 4.

However by sending out the CCG vessel into Vanguard Bank, China seems signifying its intent to keep tough Vietnam’s control of the location. It is entirely undersea, Vietnam has actually set up some stations on top of Vanguard Bank, which lies within its continental rack and unique financial zone.

China, nevertheless, declares it has “historic rights” to this and most other locations in the South China Sea, approximately demarcated by its so-called “nine-dash line”– a position unsupported under international law.

Vessel tracking software application shows the 5402 on Monday came within less than 30 nautical miles of an oil well Vietnam runs in the location as part of its energy expedition efforts. It is patrolling near block 06.01, a Vietnamese oil expedition block accredited to Russian oil business Rosneft. Vietnam’s prepared expedition because block triggered the standoff in 2015.

Satellite images shows a ship leaving Subi Reef, representing the 5402’s area according to vessel tracking information, July 3,2020 .
Credit: Planetlabs Inc.

Vietnam’s federal government has yet to comment openly on the existence of the5402 Recently it slammed a Chinese military workout even more north near the Paracel Islands, which it likewise contests with China, and stated study vessels from other countries required to look for consent prior to operating in Vietnamese waters– a response to the Hai Yang Di Zhi 4 occurrence.

China has actually constantly preserved that any energy expedition in the South China Sea need to be made with Chinese partners, and not any other international business. China has actually brought this position into so-called Standard procedure (CoC) settlements in between it and the Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN), which Vietnam currently chairs.

The CoC is suggested to govern habits in the South China Sea in between its complaintants, and both China and ASEAN accepted resume settlements on July 2. Nevertheless, intriguing habits from China has actually tossed the practicality of those settlements into doubt.

China’s sweeping territorial claims overlap with those of ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

“They’re using provocations, pressure, strong-arm tactics, but then at the same time the Chinese are also offering carrots and appearing reasonable in publicly seeking a negotiated solution,” Scobell stated, describing the CoC. “It’s all part of a comprehensive approach to advancing China’s interests in the South China Sea.”

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