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World War 3 fears as China risks furious backlash with latest South China Sea move
April 15, 2020
And the move prompted one analyst to say: “If a global pandemic doesn’t stop them, nothing will.” Vessel tracking data revealed Beijing ordered the ship, the Hai Yang Di Zhi 8, accompanied by six China Coast Guard ships, to return to the region barely a fortnight after the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat in a confrontation with a CCG ship near the Paracel Islands, which China claims to be within its territory.
The Hai Yang Di Zhi 8 left the port of Sanya, on China’s Hainan Island, last Thursday, and was joined by the CCG vessels yesterday.
As of this morning, they were 92 nautical miles off the coast of Vietnam’s Binh Dinh province, deep into the 200-nautical mile EEZ, and were further accompanied two Chinese maritime militia ships, the Dongtongxiao00235 and the Min Xia Yu 00013, Radio Free Asia reported.
All are being tracked by at least three vessels from Vietnam’s Fisheries Resource Surveillance agency, with one, the Kiem Ngu 314363, sailing right alongside the Hai Yang Di Zhi 8 as of yesterday.
The Hai Yang Di Zhi 8 was previously involved in an incident over Vanguard Bank in July 2019, as part of an apparent attempt to hamper Russian-owned oil exploration activity within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.
Vietnam to send its own coast guard and maritime militia ships to the area, with the dispute dragging on until November.
Gregory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative in Washington, told the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines in an online news conference: “What is pretty obvious is China’s not going to stop.
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If a global pandemic doesn’t stop them, nothing will
“If a global pandemic doesn’t cause China to calm things down in the South China Sea, there’s not much that will.
“The number one thing that we should think to look into is international economic sanctions.
“We have never had a discussion about sanctioning the actors behind the Chinese maritime militia.
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“China admits it has a maritime militia, and it’s a clear violation of international law.
“They are operating on the same policy framework which is go out, assert rights, harass neighbors, do whatever you want.”
The Philippines last week joined in the chorus of criticism after the sinking of the Vietnamese fishing boat.
A statement issued by Manila’s foreign office said it stood in solidarity with Hanoi.
The latest sinking has echoes of an incident last year in which a Filipino boat was rammed by a Chinese fishing vessel, leaving 22 fishermen stranded at sea for hours before being rescued by a passing Vietnamese ship.
China views the South China Sea as a key strategic waterway, a fact underlined by its construction of military bases on numerous uninhabited islands.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have maintain regional claims which run counter to those of China.
The US military regularly undertakes freedom of navigation flights and sailing missions in a bid to counter Beijing’s dominance.
Philippines and other regional allies have also been offered reassurances from Washington about support in the face of Chinese aggression.