If there are people who are more nationalistic than Koreans in the “Confucius-sphere”, it is the Vietnamese. If they were not, they likely would not be a united country today, like the Koreas. The Vietnamese overthrew 1,000 years of Chinese rule. They kicked out the French and the United States; always with inferior military strength. Since Vietnam is as communist as China, at this point an authoritarian oligarchy trying to become capitalist, all political expression like this must be allowed. This is a message directly from the Vietnamese Communist Party.

The objects of dispute, the Spratlys, are composed of over 100 small islands; some of which are barely big enough for 2 people to stand on. The draw is that they can extend international waters for these countries, which means extended fishing territories and possible access to much coveted fossil fuels; which are thought to be present in the waters around the islands. There location is obvious ambiguous and historically various nations have claimed them, as they do today. To my knowledge, ASEAN has been trying to mediate a solution to this conflict, but apparently it is not working.

Personally, I do not believe anything big will come of this. There is just too much at stake to risk conflict between Vietnam and China over this issue. I do not believe either Communist Party will allow this to get out of hand. Well, I hope not. Then again Vietnam has had issues with Taiwan too.



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Vietnamese hold rare demonstration to protest China’s move to control disputed islands

Sunday, December 9, 2007

HANOI, Vietnam — Several hundred Vietnamese held a rare public demonstration Sunday to protest China’s latest effort to claim control of two disputed island chains in the South China Sea.The demonstrators, mostly university students, gathered near the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi and chanted “Down with China!” and “Long Live Vietnam!”

Police let the demonstration continue for about an hour before breaking it up.

The protesters were supporting the government’s position that Vietnam has sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel islands, a contentious issue between Vietnam and China for years.

The largely uninhabited islands and surrounding waters are believed to have large oil and natural gas reserves. They straddle busy sea lanes and are rich fishing grounds.

Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also claim sovereignty over all or some of the Spratlys.

The demonstrators were protesting the Chinese legislature’s recent ratification of a plan to create a symbolic administrative region called Sansha to manage three archipelagos, including the Paracels and the Spratlys.

“The whole world knows that these islands belong to Vietnam,” said Le Duc Hung, a 24-year-old Web designer. “We must do something to show our sovereignty over these islands.”

The students had publicized the demonstration ahead of time on the Internet and by mobile phone.

Nguyen Hong Nguyen, a 23-year-old tourism major at Hanoi Open University, said he sent 124 text messages inviting his friends to demonstrate. Nguyen, who waved a Vietnamese flag, said he was a member of the country’s Communist Party.

“We are here to show our love for our nation, our love for our fatherland,” he said.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China has “indisputable sovereignty” over the islands, and that it was not exceeding its territorial limits.

The Vietnamese demonstrators said they planned another protest next Sunday.

Demonstrations are extremely rare in Vietnam, where the Communist government exerts tight control over political expression.

When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, police allowed several hundred students to protest.

Vietnamese farmers have also held occasional protests in recent years, saying the government seized their land for development without compensating them fairly.