Oil rig out, but still no happy ending

Lieutenant-Colonel Ngo Minh Tung, captain of a Vietnamese Coast Guard vessel, speaks to reporters aboard the ship on 16 July 2014. On 15 July, the Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig was removed from the Vietnamese claimed EEZ in the South China Sea. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tung Nguyen, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam

On 15 July, the Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig was removed from Vietnam’s claimed EEZ in the South China Sea. But this might not be the happy ending it appears to be. The way the crisis began and ended suggests that similar incidents will occur. The Chinese decision to place the rig in the area was unilateral. So was the decision to pull it out. It was made in the absence of an agreed solution between China and Vietnam and was accompanied by a claim touting the ‘success’ of the drilling operation, which occurred ‘well within China’s sovereignty’, according to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hong Lei. Read more…

China’s SOEs test the waters in the South China Sea

A Chinese government ship trails a Vietnamese Coast Guard vessel with reporters aboard in the South China Sea on 15  July 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Megan Bowman, George Gilligan and Justin O’Brien, UNSW

In early May, the Chinese HYSY-981 oil rig was moved into waters near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. The oil rig is owned by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and operated by its subsidiary China Oilfield Services Limited. It was redeployed with Beijing’s approval to drill for another state-owned corporation, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). The rig was deployed 120 nautical miles from Vietnam’s coastline and within Vietnam’s claimed exclusive economic zone. Conflict ensued between Vietnamese and Chinese sea-faring vessels and between citizens of both nations on Vietnamese soil. Read more…

China’s control over the South China Sea

A Vietnamese protester during a protest rally against China’s deployment of an oil rig in the disputed South China Sea. China recently announced that it would remove the rig. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Last week China announced that it was towing away a giant oil rig from waters disputed with Vietnam, ahead of the onset of the typhoon season and after finding signs of oil and gas, at the same time insisting it stood firm on maritime claims that have sparked disputes with its neighbours — and warned it could return.

China deployed the US$1 billion rig in early May in waters close to the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea Read more…

Vietnam’s precarious strategic balancing act

Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung attend a meeting in Hanoi over the stationing of a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea, 18 June 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Huong Le Thu, ISEAS

Since overcoming years of isolation in the late 1990s, Vietnam has pursued an ‘omnidirectional’ foreign policy. In 2001, Vietnam began establishing a network of flexibly defined partnerships: these include ‘comprehensive’ (enhanced bilateral diplomatic and economic relations), ‘strategic’ and ‘cooperative strategic’ (the highest level of cooperation based on long-term relations). Read more…

Vietnam’s deft diplomatic footwork on the South China Sea

A Chinese Coast Guard ship chasing a Vietnamese vessel near the site of the Chinese oil rig in the disputed waters in the South China Sea on 1 June 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Hoang Oanh, RSIS

In early May 2014, China deployed the drilling platform Hai Yang Shi You 981 (HYSY 981) in disputed waters in the South China Sea, causing a wave of protest in Vietnam and criticism from regional countries.

In response to China’s behaviour in the South China Sea, Hanoi has been adopting a two-pronged policy of ‘hedging’: that is, pursuing engagement along with indirect balancing and trying to maintain balanced relations between powers without firmly plumping for either. Read more…

Reforming labour relations in Vietnam

Workers take a break at a construction site in Hanoi, 7 August 2002. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Tu Phuong Nguyen, ANU

The Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), the peak organisation overseeing trade unions and industrial relations in Vietnam, established the Committee of Labour Relations in April this year. This reflects an ongoing process of legal and regulatory reforms to deal with labour disputes — mostly in the form of workers’ strikes — that have hampered production activities in Vietnam. Read more…

Vietnam’s strategic outlook after Haiyang 981

Chinese citizens evacuated from Vietnam arrive at Xiuying port in Haikou, southern China's Hainan province on 20 May 2014. More than 3,500 Chinese citizens were evacuated from riot-hit Vietnam by sea, as Hanoi stifled fresh protests over a territorial dispute. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Thuy T Do, ANU

The sudden deployment of China’s oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 — and about 80 naval and surveillance ships to protect it — into Vietnam’s claimed exclusive economic zone in early May sent shockwaves through Vietnam. Images of Chinese vessels ramming and firing water cannons at Vietnamese boats flooded Vietnamese media, triggering a wave of unprecedented anti-China protests across the country and overseas.

Read more…

Haiyang 981: from water cannons to court?

The Chinese oil rig Haiyang 981 in the South China Sea on 14 May 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Huy Duong, Southeast Asian Sea Foundation

A dangerous clash has flared up between Vietnam and China over the latter’s deployment of an oil rig near the disputed Paracel Islands. One option for Vietnam is to submit the dispute to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea’s (UNCLOS) compulsory dispute settlement procedure.

Read more…

Oil rig incident means Vietnam–China relations face a new test

Policemen try to disperse people protesting near the Embassy of China in Vietnam. Vietnam accused Chinese boats of repeatedly ramming Vietnamese vessels near disputed waters in the South China Sea where China has placed an oil drilling platform near the Paracel Islands. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Le Hong Hiep, Vietnam National University

The current face-off between Vietnam and China over the latter’s installation of its deep-water oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 deep within Vietnam’s claimed exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is probably the biggest test for their bilateral relations since normalisation in 1991. Read more…

Rigged relations in the South China Sea

Anti-China protesters march while shouting slogans during a rally in downtown Ho Chi Minh city on 11 May 2014.  Protesters staged one of Vietnam's largest ever anti-China demonstrations decrying Beijing's deployment of a deep-water drilling rig in contested waters as territorial tensions soar.    (Photo: AAP)

Author: Tung Nguyen, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam

On 1 May 2014, a China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) deep-water oil-drilling rig was moved to and installed 80 miles inside Vietnam’s claimed Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The rig is escorted by more than 80 armed and military vessels that have engaged in firing high-power water cannons and ramming Vietnam’s civilian ships.

Read more…

Reforms vital for Vietnamese economy to stay on track

Cyclists ride past a large poster advertising luxury cars on a road in Hanoi on July 4, 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Suiwah Leung, ANU

After several years of macroeconomic turmoil, 2013 finally saw a return to some semblance of stability in the Vietnamese economy. There is no time to lose.

The government needs to push through significant reforms in key areas in order to lift long-term growth. Read more…

Is Vietnam’s bamboo diplomacy threatened by pandas?

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang as they attend the cooperation signing ceremony between Russia and Vietnam at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam in November 2013 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Thuy T. Do, ANU

Vietnam is maximising its political leverage with ‘clumping bamboo’ diplomacy. Although Thailand is famous for its skilful ‘bamboo diplomacy’ — always solidly rooted but flexible enough to bend whichever way the wind blows to survive — the Vietnamese have found another diplomatic philosophy to engage great powers. Read more…

Bitter taste brewing in Vietnamese coffee

A woman walks past an advertising poster for G7 coffee. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Pham Thu Huong and Dao Ngoc Tien, FTU

Vietnam is now one of the largest coffee producers and exporters in the world — with a 20 per cent global market share. It exports coffee beans to more than 70 countries all over the world, and the US, Germany and Spain are its main importers. Although roasted and instant coffee exports have increased steadily year on year,the industry faces risks due to its low capacity to deal with world price fluctuations. Read more…

Small and medium business speaks up in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, the economic centre and largest city in Vietnam (Photo: Milei.vencel/Wikipedia)

Author: Tu Phuong Nguyen, University of Adelaide

New social forces emerging from market reforms are penetrating the formal agenda of Vietnam’s one-party regime. In particular, beyond the corporatist state structure, private entrepreneurs have engaged more actively in organised business groups, and these groups are helping to voice the concerns of these entrepreneurs. The policy environment is more open, Read more…