China’s Oil Rig Gambit: South China Sea Game-Changer? – by Carl Thayer

[ndlr] Suite de l’affaire de la Plateforme chinoise illégale HD 981. Analyse de l’expert australien Carl Thayer à lire sur The Diplomat.

© 2014 Thanh Niên

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China’s Oil Rig Gambit: South China Sea Game-Changer?

China’s placement of a state-owned oil rig in the South China Sea was unexpected, provocative and illegal.

China’s placement of the giant state-owned oil rig HD-981 in Block 143 inside Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on May 2 was unexpected, provocative and illegal.

This incident marks the first time China has placed one of its oil rigs in the EEZ of another state without prior permission. This was an unexpected move because China-Vietnam relations have been on an upward trajectory since the visit to Hanoi by Premier Li Keqiang in October. At that time, both sides indicated they had reached agreement to carry forward discussions on maritime issues. China’s move was also unexpected because Vietnam has not undertaken any discernible provocative action that would justify China’s unprecedented actions.

China’s deployment of the rig was provocative because the oil rig was accompanied by as many as 80 ships, including seven People’s Liberation Army Navy warships. When Vietnam dispatched Coast Guard vessels to defend its sovereign jurisdiction, China responded by ordering its ships to use water cannons and to deliberately ram the Vietnamese vessels. These actions were not only highly dangerous, but caused injuries to the Vietnamese crew.

Read more : The Diplomat, 12/05/2014.