Territorial disputes: South China Sea (Part 5) [Post 120]

South China Sea and Vietnam

Because Vietnam has a 2,000-mile coastline facing the East Sea (South China Sea) and 50 percent of its population lives along the coast, the government sees maritime as its greatest security threat. In 2016, approximately $1.6 billion was earmarked for maritime defense capabilities, but this is expected to increase to $2 billion by 2020. The Vietnamese Navy and Air Force had very little capacity to protect Vietnam’s maritime interests, but over the past decade both services have undergone some modernization.

In March 2018, following pressure from China, Vietnam ended a partnership with Repsol to drill for oil at Vanguard Bank in the South China Sea. The project would have involved exploration within an area claimed by China. However, Vietnam is still planning to move ahead with ExxonMobil’s lease for the Blue Whale Gas Field, a 150 billion-cubic-meter find 50 nm off Vietnam’s central coast. Exxon announced the official start of the project last October.

By failing to show up as Vietnam was coerced into a corner, Washington ultimately failed to live up to supporting the values that it claims to hold with regard to the future of the regional security architecture in Asia. The next time Chinese decision-makers seek to authorize the coercion of a Southeast Asian claimant state in the South China Sea, they’ll remember that.

Russia is Vietnam’s main arms supplier and the major platforms acquired from it since 2011 have served to upgrade Vietnam’s capability to conduct sea operations in the East Sea.Russia and Vietnam are comprehensive strategic partners and that relationship has been incessantly growing based on mutual respect, equality and strategic benefits, he added.The two nations have continued collaboration across the board and maintained close coordination in the international arena. This is particularly meaningful since the two sides share the same viewpoints in various fields.Russia and Vietnam have also paid due attention to developing economic and trade relations through the implementation of the free trade agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Vietnam along with deals reached by their leaders.

People’s Army Newspaper (Vietnam) Link

The Maritime Executive Link

The Diplomat Link


This post is based on Jorge Emilio Núñez, Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (Routledge 2020).Previous published research monograph about territorial disputes and sovereignty by the author, Jorge Emilio Núñez, Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017.


South China Sea and the Philippines.

Monday 13th July 2020

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @DrJorge_World


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