20 April 2020   Leave a comment

According to Reuters, China has “established an administrative district on the Paracel islands and another on the Spratly islands. The two districts are under the control of China’s Sansha city”. The two islands are in the South China Sea which China claims as part of its national territory even though that claim does not rest on any interpretation of international maritime law. Other states in the region, such as Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia also have made claims on the South China Sea. Vietnam protested the action:

“‘The establishment of the so-called Sansha City and related activities seriously violated Vietnam’s sovereignty,’ Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement.

“’Vietnam demands that China respect Vietnam’s sovereignty and abolish its wrongful decisions,’ Hang said in the statement.”

Some analysts believe that China is making these moves now because the world–especially the US–is preoccupied with the COVID-19 crisis:

“Richard Heydarian, an academic and former Philippine government adviser, described the move as China taking advantage of a ‘strategic vacuum’ created by the Covid-19 crisis.

“’On the one hand it’s engaging in face mask diplomacy [providing medical supplies to other countries] … but on the other hand it’s on the offensive,’ he said.

“’All of them should be seen as part of one package in which China seizes the strategic opportunity of not only its neighbouring countries scrambling to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, but also the US Navy’s suspension of overseas appointments.’”

The US has yet to comment on the Chinese moves. I doubt that there will be any response.

And now, for something completely different (apologies to Monty Python)

Posted April 20, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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