World View: China Rams Vietnamese Ships in South China Sea

World View: China Rams Vietnamese Ships in South China Sea

This morning’s key headlines from

  • China rams Vietnamese ships in the South China Sea
  • Putin ‘withdraws’ Russian troops, and calls off Sunday’s east Ukraine referendum
  • Vladimir Putin caught in a lie about the Crimean referendum

China rams Vietnamese ships in the South China Sea

Eight Vietnamese boats have been “rammed, hit or sprayed withhigh-pressure hoses [by Chinese boats] … damaging Vietnamese vesselsand injuring their crew members” since Saturday, according toVietnamese officials. The Vietnamese ships were attempting a blockadeto prevent China from deploying a mobile drilling rig to search foroil and gas in regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam andwhich Vietnam claims as part of its exclusive economic zone in theSouth China Sea. 

China has been adopting a “Lebensraum” policy of claiming all of theSouth China Sea as its sovereign territory, including regions thathave historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, andthe Philippines, often for centuries. According to China, thesecountries have no rights to anything outside their 12-mile territorialwaters, while China has the right to annex everything in sight. Chinahas already used its vast military power to forcibly annex territoriesbelonging to Vietnam and the Philippines and has militarilythreatened islands belonging to Malaysia. 

According to Vietnamese officials, “Vietnam has exercised restraint.But if Chinese vessels continue ramming Vietnamese ships, we’ll haveto act out of self-defense.” 

In a separate incident on Wednesday, 11 Chinese fishermen hunting seaturtles were captured Wednesday by Philippine maritime police.According to the Chinese, “Several armed men forced themselves ontothe boat and fired four or five shots in the air. They then tookcontrol of the boat.” But the Philippine National Police rebuttedthis statement, saying that the Chinese fishermen had been caught with800 sea turtles, which are protected under Philippine law. Theincident took place near the Spratly Islands’ Half Moon Shoal, whichthe Philippines claims is within its 200-mile exclusive economic zone. 

Tensions between China and other nations, particularly Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines, in the East and South China Seas have beengrowing steadily, along with threats and confrontations. This is atrend that seems to worsen every week, as all of these countries’populations become increasingly nationalistic. Now we have Chineseships ramming Vietnamese ships, and we have Chinese warplanes andJapanese warplanes both surveying the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Someaccident or miscalculation could lead to a larger conflict at anytime. LA Times and Thanh Nien News (Hanoi)

Putin ‘withdraws’ Russian troops, calls off Sunday’s east Ukraine referendum

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that Russia’stroops have withdrawn from the border with Ukraine. However, thePentagon says that there’s been no evidence of movement in Russia’ssoldiers. 

However, Putin surprised everybody on Wednesday by calling onUkraine’s pro-Russian separatists to postpone a referendum that wasscheduled for this Sunday, May 11. The purpose of this referendum wasto duplicate the 97% Russian victory in a similar March 16 referendumheld in Crimea that Putin used as an excuse to separate Crimea fromUkraine and annex it to Russia. 

This announcement was a surprise to the West, to Ukraine’s government,and even to the pro-Russian separatists who were preparing for thereferendum. The separatists say that they’re going to holdthe referendum anyway. 

Possibly even more surprising, Putin announced that Ukraine’spresident elections, scheduled for May 25, should go ahead. Putin hadpreviously opposed these elections because they would legitimize thegovernment in Kiev. VOA

Vladimir Putin caught in a lie about the Crimean referendum?

It’s likely that the reason that Putin called for postponing orcanceling Sunday’s separatist referendum is because he decided thatthe pro-Russian side was likely to lose. In fact, there have beenpolls that indicate that people in eastern Ukraine dislike the Kievgovernment but still don’t want to be part of Russia. 

But now it’s being reported that the published results of the Crimeanreferendum were fraudulent. Putin had claimed that 97% of theCrimeans had voted to separate and join Russia. It was dubious thatthe 97% figure wasn’t exaggerated, since no honest electionever gets such lopsided results. But now an official Russian agency,the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, reportedly accidentally posted the real figures on its web site: that only 30% ofeligible voters turned out to vote, and only 50% of those voted forannexation. So only 15% of eligible voters (50% of 30%) voted forannexation. 

The 97% claim was the lynchpin of Putin’s argument that Crimea shouldbe separated from Ukraine and annexed to Russia, and now that entirejustification has been called into question. Even with the 97% figure, therenever was any legitimacy for one country to annex another country’sterritory.Washington Post and Forbes

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, China, Vietnam, South China Sea,Philippines, Japan,Russia, Vladimir Putin, Ukraine, Crimea 

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