India-Vietnam joint work must be halted

Por • 14 oct, 2011 • Sección: Internacionales

Global Times | October 14, 2011 01:11
By Global Times

India and Vietnam inked an agreement for joint oil exploration in the South China Sea on Wednesday. Both countries clearly know what this means for China. China may consider taking actions to show its stance and prevent more reckless attempts in confronting China in the area.

Just one day after signing an agreement on ground rules to resolve maritime disputes in Beijing, Hanoi reached an agreement with New Delhi for joint exploration. It is hard to tell if this shows a double-dealing mentality from Hanoi, or a disagreement among Vietnam’s top decision-makers.

By inking pacts with Vietnam, India probably has deeper considerations in its regional strategy than simply getting barrels of oil and gas.

India is willing to fish in the troubled waters of the South China Sea so as to accumulate bargaining chips on other issues with China.

There is strong political motivation behind the exploration projects. China’s vocal objections may not be heeded. China must take practical actions including those to make these projects fall through.

China should denounce this agreement as illegal. Once India and Vietnam initiate their exploration, China can send non-military forces to disturb their work, and cause dispute or friction to halt the two countries’ exploration.

In other words, China should let them know that economic profits via such cooperation can hardly match the risk.

To upgrade the current dispute into a serious conflict will represent risks for every country involved. China obviously does not want to see that happen. By preventing the India-Vietnam exploration, China clearly exposes the risks and lets every country involved share them. If China takes no action,  the nation will bear them alone.

Some countries are taking risks in the South China Sea, and they believe China will step back to avoid conflict. As a result, China faces increasing provocations in the region. The effect of China’s diplomatic protest is dwindling. In a bid to cool down the compulsion to take risks in this region, China has to dish out one or two patient and firm retaliatory measures.

India has its ambitions in the South China Sea. However, its national strength cannot provide solid support for such ambitions yet. Furthermore, this is not India’s urgent task in building itself into a great power. Even in respect of its own interests, India is just poking its nose where it does not belong. Indian society is unprepared for a fierce conflict with China on the South China Sea issue.

Hanoi often hesitates on whether to confront with China on the South China Sea. It appears tough on China. But in fact, it has complicated national goals, just as China does. Territorial claims are just one of these.

Chinese society can not tolerate such repetitive provocations in the South China Sea. A rising China inevitably needs to have some degree of tolerance, and it is risky to take tough actions against provocations. However, an even greater risk is to let the Chinese public bear the grievances that only strategists can bear.

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