China obviously has a problem. It does not want to accept that there is an Internationally agreed limit of national sovereignty that extends to 200 nautical miles from the coast, and no further.
It has laid unilateral claim to most of the South China Sea, which has brought it into conflict with most of its immediate neighbours. This has led to disputes among ASEAN members, but China has been at great pains to insist that such disputes should be resolved amicably, without involving outside parties.
There have been skirmishes over disputed territory, notably with Japan, and the Philippines, where China’s claims are obviously erroneous under the International agreement.
All this talk of peaceful resolution was swept aside by a recent event – the siting of an oil rig in the Paracel island group, and outside the official jurisdiction of China. By forcibly siting this rig in Vietnam’s area, China has given the lie to its proclaimed policy, and revealed what lay behind it for all the world to see.
China has been employing bully tactics on its smaller neighbours for years, at the same time as keeping the larger players from getting involved.
Of course there has been a reaction in Vietnam. See
“Vietnam-China tensions: Why protests are not just jingoism”
“China-Vietnam tensions: Beijing vows to continue drilling”
China warns Vietnam over deadly protests in territorial dispute
“China has castigated Vietnam over an outbreak of deadly protests against a Chinese oil rig in a disputed maritime zone – the worst clashes between the two countries in more than three decades.”
Over the years, China has proved itself to be really adept at laying blame at any other door than its own.
However, in this case, where it is clearly the aggressor, it will have to accept that the other countries with which it is in territorial dispute, will have taken due note, and will up their game accordingly.