[governance-vn] Vietnam protests over Chinese "invasion plans"
vern.weitzel at gmail.com
Sat Sep 6 05:52:30 EST 2008
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Vietnam protests over Chinese "invasion plans"
Date: Fri, 5 Sep 2008 20:39:58 +0700
From: nguyen mai <henmoc at gmail.com>
South China Morning Post
September 5, 2008
*Vietnam protests over Chinese "invasion plans"*
*Beijing dismisses online threats *
Greg Torode and Shi Jiangtao
Vietnam has formally protested to China over so-called "invasion plans"
appearing on mainland websites that purport to detail the complete
military occupation of the country by China.
Hanoi has twice summoned senior Chinese diplomats to voice its concerns
over the material which, while unsourced and apparently unofficial, has
alarmed diplomatic and military elites in the Vietnamese capital after
appearing repeatedly over the past month.
The supposed plans detail a 31-day invasion, starting with five days of
missile strikes from land, sea and air and climaxing in an invasion
involving 310,000 troops sweeping into Vietnam from Yunnan, Guangxi and
the South China Sea. The electronic jamming of Vietnamese command and
communications centres is mentioned, along with the blocking of sea
lanes in the South China Sea.
"Vietnam is a major threat to the safety of Chinese territories, and the
biggest obstacle to the peaceful emergence of China," the plans posted
on Sina.com and at least three other websites say.
"Also, Vietnam is the strategic hub of the whole of Southeast Asia.
Vietnam has to be conquered first if Southeast Asia is to be under
[China's] control again."
"From all perspectives, Vietnam is a piece of bone hard to be swallowed."
In a statement to the South China Morning Post, Vietnamese Foreign
Ministry spokesman Le Dung confirmed Beijing officials had been asked
"to act so that such negative articles will not appear again since these
may be harmful to bilateral relations".
"This is irrelevant information which goes against the trend of peace,
friendship and co-operation for development in the region and the world
and is not in the interests of the fine relationship existing between
Vietnam and China," Mr Dung said.
He added that China acknowledged Vietnam's request and "stated that the
article did not reflect the position of the government of China".
A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing, meanwhile, said the "different
voices" on the internet represented individual acts "by only a handful
of people, which by no means represented China's stance".
"The Chinese government attaches importance to the development of
Sino-Vietnamese relations and is actively committed to strengthening
publicity of the Sino-Vietnamese friendship," he said.
Vietnamese government sources said they were perplexed that articles
remained online, as they believed China actively policed the content of
Many officials believe the articles may have been sparked by rising
tensions over the disputed South China Sea, where Beijing has recently
been trying to pressure international oil firms into pulling out of
their exploration contracts with Vietnam.
The Post reported in July that Chinese envoys had warned ExxonMobil -
the world's largest oil firm - that its future mainland business could
be at risk unless it pulled out of deals in Vietnam's southern and
central oil fields. ExxonMobil executives say Vietnam's legal position
Song Xiaojun, a Beijing-based military expert, described the
internet-based plans, one of which was subtitled "One battle to set the
region in order", as a joke.
"It is, at most, a game by a few military amateurs and it has no
military value at all," he said.
He said there were still some people in both countries who could not
forget the nations' old animosities.
"China and Vietnam have similar political systems and should unite to
counter the US, which is the common enemy for both countries," he said.
"Clearly the US tries to play Vietnam off against the rising China."
Mr Song described US company ExxonMobil's oil exploration work in the
South China Sea as provocative.
"We should be on the alert for possible conspiracy theories behind the
so-called invasion plan and other provocative stuff. Sensible people in
both countries are well aware that China has no reason to think of
invading Vietnam as it needs to make good friends with its neighbours."
He said the mainland government should also learn a lesson from the issue.
"Authorities should be responsible to guide public opinion towards other
countries and make its own stance on confusing issues clear and
understood. The government should not leave any chances for
troublemakers and harmful speculations."
Carl Thayer, a veteran Vietnamese military analyst at the Australian
National University, said it was unthinkable that China
would consider such an invasion in the modern regional context, but he
warned that the case highlighted the potential for "extreme nationalism"
on both sides.
"It may well become part of a tit-for-tat trend. China objects to
anti-Beijing protests in Hanoi and then Vietnam feels it must react to
something like this," Dr Thayer said.
Current Vietnamese military strategy has long been geared towards
deterring China from backing its territorial claims by force, he said.
China is Vietnam's biggest source of imports and both governments have
worked to rebuild ties in recent years, despite lingering tensions after
the brief but bloody border conflict of 1979.
As well as deepening fraternal ties between communist party leaders,
both sides have made progress in solving disputes over the 1,400km land
border and the Gulf of Tonkin. Rival claims to the potentially oil-rich
grounds beneath the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea remain a key
point of friction, however.
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