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Thayer South China Sea and Regional Security

Thayer South China Sea and Regional Security

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Published by Carlyle Alan Thayer
Two Background Brief: (1) a general overview of the South China Sea disputes and regional security and (2) new oil contracts signed by U.S. oil companies with Vietnam's state=owned oil company.
Two Background Brief: (1) a general overview of the South China Sea disputes and regional security and (2) new oil contracts signed by U.S. oil companies with Vietnam's state=owned oil company.

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Published by: Carlyle Alan Thayer on Aug 17, 2013
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08/25/2013

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Background Briefing:South China Sea and RegionalSecurityCarlyle A. ThayerJuly 20, 2013
[client name deleted]We are preparing a report for a general audience on
China’s South China Sea claims
and the impact on regional security and would greatly appreciate your input andrecommendation of current sources, especially on the legal action taken by thePhilippines.ASSESSMENT:
China's South China Sea Claims
: In May 2009, the People's Republic of China (PRC)for the first time officially tabled to the UN Commission on the Limits of theContinental Shelf its 9-dash line u-shaped map claiming over 80% of the South ChinaSea. This map was originally drawn up in 1947 by the Republic of China (Taiwan) andadopted by the PRC after it came to power in 1949. The 1947 map had eleven dashlines, two in the Gulf of Tonkin were removed without explanation in 1953. Abouttwo years ago the PRC added a tenth line to the east of Taiwan.The point of China's claims, other than the map, is that it has never clarified what itis claiming (all the waters, islands, rocks and other features within the 9-dash lines?).Nor has China clarified the international legal basis for its claims. China asserts"historic rights" and claims "indisputable sovereignty" over the South China Sea.Under customary international law, the "land dominates the sea". In other words,claims arise from baselines on a state's coast. From these baselines a state may claimterritorial waters, contiguous zone, 200 nm Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and acontinental shelf. China's u-shaped line cuts deeply into the EEZs established byVietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia. This has led to attempts by China toassert its sovereignty by cutting the cables of oil exploration ships contracted byVietnam to conduct operations in its EEZ. China has also put heavy diplomaticpressure on American and other oil companies to stop assisting Vietnam in thedevelopment of offshore hydrocarbon resources. The Obama Administration haspushed back.In 2009 China accosted the USNS
Impeccable
survey ship operating in China's EEZ off Hainan Island. China has regularly challenged other US surveillance ships off its eastcoast. No incidents have been reported until this past week.
Thayer Consultancy
ABN # 65 648 097 123
 
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China has also used the threat to ram a seismic exploration vessel in the Philippines'EEZ to force the vessel to leave the area (within the Philippines's EEZ). China has overthe last year annexed Scarborough Shoal by posting paramilitary ships there,erecting a barrier to the mouth of the shoal, and chasing off Filipino fishing vessels. Aconfrontation is currently looming at Second Thomas Shoal where Filipino Marinesare stationed on a LST beached there since 1999.The Philippines this year challenged China's claims by lodging a claim with theArbitral Tribunal set up under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).The Arbitral Tribunal has just held its first meeting.
Impact on Regional Security 
: Southeast East Asian states may be divided into threegroups: the claimant states (Vietnam and the Philippines plus Brunei and Malaysia);the other maritime states (Singapore and Indonesia); and the mainland states(Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand). Vietnam and the Philippines are thefrontline states that have borne the brunt of Chinese assertiveness. Brunei andMalaysia play a much quieter role.Chinese actions led the US to intervene diplomatically in 2010. The US alliance withthe Philippines has been revived. The Philippines has embarked on themodernization of its armed forces. The US assisted in boosting the Philippines'capability in maritime domain awareness. And the US has been seeking and grantedgreater naval and air access to the Philippines.Vietnam has largely embarked on a self-help force modernization program. It hasacquired
Gepard 
-class stealth frigates from Russia, Su-30 multirole jet fighters,missile attack craft and has on order six
Kilo
-class conventional submarines. All theseand other platforms are armed with anti-ship missiles. Vietnam has graduallydeveloped limited defence ties with the US.Chinese assertiveness is partly - but not wholly - responsible for an arms buildup inSoutheast Asia. The hall mark is conventional submarines; these have been acquiredby Singapore and Malaysia with Indonesia and Thailand in the queue. But otherforms of precision stand off weapons are being acquired.
Sources
: The best place to start is the home page of CSIS - Center for Strategic andInternational Studies, in Washington, DC. They have just posted the papers of their3rd conference on the South China Sea. It is suggested you consult the paperspresented to the legal panel. There were a variety of panels covering differenttopics:Recent Developments in the South China SeaSpeakers:Dr. Wu ShicunPresidentNational Institute for South China Sea Studies
 
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Dr. Tran Truong ThuyDirector, South China Sea Studies ProgramDiplomatic Academy of VietnamDr. Renato C. De CastroProfessorDe La Salle UniversityDr. Yann-Huei SongResearch FellowInstitute of European American StudiesSouth China Sea in Regional PoliticsSpeakers:Amb. Hemant Krishan SinghWadhwani Chair in India-U.S. Policy StudiesIndian Council for Research on International Economic RelationsVice Admiral Hideaki Kaneda, JMSDF (ret.)Director, The Okazaki InstituteThe Japan Institute for International AffairsDr. Carlyle A. ThayerEmeritus ProfessorUniversity of New South Wales, Australian Defense Force AcademyDr. Donald K. EmmersonDirector, Southeast Asia ForumStanford UniversityRole of International Law in Managing the DisputesDr. Zhang XinjunAssociate Professor of Public International LawTsinghua University Law SchoolMr. Henry S. Bensurto, Jr.Secretary General, Commission on Maritime and Ocean Affairs SecretariatDepartment of Foreign Affairs, PhilippinesDr. Peter DuttonProfessor and Director, China Maritime Studies InstituteU.S. Naval War College

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