China-Vietnam standoff at sea: What's at stake
Many view the resource-rich South China Sea as a likely flashpoint in East Asia; one that could ignite both localized military conflicts and drag in the United States. And for good reason.
The vast expanse of water contains abundant fisheries, immense untapped oil and natural gas deposits, and small uninhabited islands or rocks contested by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei.
Things got ugly in early May, when dozens of Chinese official ships confronted Vietnamese coast guard patrol boats approaching a giant oil rig deployed by Chinese offshore oil company China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) in waters claimed by both China and Vietnam. In the ensuing melee, a Chinese ship rammed a Vietnamese ship, injuring several Vietnamese crew members. Another Chinese ship doused a Vietnamese ship with a water cannon.
No shot was fired during the incident. However, the confrontation foreshadows potentially more dangerous escalations to come, particularly between China and Vietnam.
Read the full article.
Minxin Pei is the Tom and Margot Pritzker '72 Professor of Government and a non-resident senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States