On the night of Sunday 12th to Monday, June 13, 2011, Vietnam began a series of live fire military exercises in South China Sea. Hanoi refers to “annual routine training,” but this show of force took place after several incidents that have strained relations between Vietnam and China for a month.
This weekend the U.S. said they were concerned about the tensions in the South China Sea, claiming a Washington “peaceful” solution, which did not prevent Hanoi starting military exercises this Monday.
Tensions in the region have in fact been revived in late May, when Vietnam has accused the Chinese maritime surveillance have cut the cables of a Vietnamese ship. Last Thursday, June 9, dozens of Vietnamese protested outside the Chinese embassy in Hanoi for the second time in a week.
These tensions are not new: in 70 years, China took possession of the Paracel archipelago until then controlled by South Vietnam. This archipelago and a little further south of the Spratlys are believed to be rich in oil, and on the road to major shipping routes. Moreover, the Spratlys are claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.