Thursday, July 14, 2016

China Vs. Vietnam: Next Up At The Hague?

In 2012, China cut the cables of seismic equipment used by Vietnam to explore its own EEZ for oil and gas. Starting in 2014, China repeatedly explored for oil within Vietnam’s 200 nautical mile EEZ, with its high-tech $1 billion HS 981 drilling rig. Subsidized Chinese steel-hulled boats regularly sink wooden Vietnamese fishing boats in disputed areas of the South China Sea, most recently last weekend.

Vietnam will likely be the next to bring a similar arbitration case against China — and is almost assured of getting a win. Vietnam still claims all of the Spratlys and Paracel Islands.
The Chinese exploration rig at the center of a maritime standoff with Vietnam in 2014 made a deep sea gas discovery in the politically volatile South China Sea.

The find by CNOOC’s two-year-old, $1 billion deep sea rig is about 150 kilometers south of China’s southernmost island of Hainan.
The Vietnamese may petition the Court to ascertain the limits of their EEZ, based on 200 nautical miles from the coastline. Once this is settled, Vietnam will be theoretically free to fully utilize its EEZ without Chinese interference.