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Thursday, September 28, 2023

 Vietnam demands Taiwan cancel live fire drills in Spratlys

Vietnam demands Taiwan cancel live fire drills in Spratlys


By holding live fire drills near Itu Aba Island, Taiwan is acting in direct violation of Vietnam’s territorial sovereignty over the Spratly Archipelago, the foreign ministry stated Thursday.

"The fact that Taiwan performs live fire drills in sea regions around Itu Aba, part of Vietnam’s Spratly Islands, is in serious violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the islands, threatening peace, stability, maritime safety and security, as well as escalating tensions and complicating the situation in the South China Sea," spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pham Thu Hang said in a press release.

"Vietnam resolutely opposes the act and demands Taiwan to cancel the illegal aforementioned activity, and not repeat similar violations in the future," she added.

"Vietnam has full legal basis, backed by historical evidence, to establish its sovereignty over the Spratly Islands."

Itu Aba, called Ba Binh in Vietnamese, is the largest naturally occurring island and land mass within the Spratly Islands, which are located within Vietnam's territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Taiwan illegally occupies the island and has deployed military forces at the location.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

ASEAN needs to consolidate unity, promote self-reliance amid fierce geopolitical competition: PM

ASEAN needs to consolidate unity, promote self-reliance amid fierce geopolitical competition: PM

Sharing concerns about profound changes in the global and regional situation, the leaders of ASEAN countries emphasised that unity is a strategic value for ASEAN to overcome challenges, remain resilient against strategic frictions and geopolitical competition, and affirm its central role in the regional structure.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính together with ASEAN leaders on Tuesday attended the retreat session in Jakarta as part of the 43rd ASEAN Summit where they exchanged views on international and regional issues.

Sharing concerns about profound changes in the global and regional situation, the leaders of ASEAN countries emphasised that unity is a strategic value for ASEAN to overcome challenges, remain resilient against strategic frictions and geopolitical competition and affirm its central role in the regional structure.

They also stressed that unity is the foundation to strengthen ASEAN's role in guiding and leading efforts for peace, stability, and development in the region.

Speaking at the session, the Vietnamese PM shared the opinions of the countries regarding the complex and multidimensional developments in the current international environment, in which one of the main factors is intense strategic competition among major powers, forcing countries to face extremely difficult strategic choices.

In the midst of fierce competition among major countries, PM Chính said that for ASEAN to maintain its central role, the only answer would be to exert its own strength, consolidate internal unity, and assert its strategic value.

ASEAN countries would need to uphold the spirit of independence, self-reliance, respect for the rule of law, and adherence to the basic principles and norms of ASEAN, he noted.

PM Chính also remarked that at the centre of the competition, ASEAN needed to maintain a strategic balance with major countries.

ASEAN must truly become a "trustworthy, reliable bridge" with the ability to regulate and balance relationships and interests, firmly pursue the goal of building an open, transparent, inclusive, and most importantly, unified regional structure, and maintain its principled position on issues directly related to the security and development environment of the region.

Discussing international and regional issues, PM Chính underlined the need for ASEAN to make efforts to enhance unity and maintain and strengthen a common position with regard to the South China Sea (known in Việt Nam as the East Sea), adding that this is both the interest and common responsibility of all member countries.

ASEAN needed to request that partners respect this position when operating in the South China Sea, especially principles such as self-restraint, peaceful resolution of disputes, respect for international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

At the same time, ASEAN should persistently and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and work to build a substantive, effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) that is consistent with international law and UNCLOS 1982.

Regarding the situation in Myanmar, PM Chính acknowledged that ASEAN's recent efforts, along with those of member countries, had received positive signals from all parties in Myanmar.

PM Chính expressed support for further proactive engagement to encourage peaceful dialogue, build trust, enhance common understanding, and work towards comprehensive and sustainable solutions to the issue of Myanmar.

PM Chính expressed support for Indonesia as the Chair of ASEAN and the Special Envoy of the Chair on Myanmar in leading ASEAN's efforts based on the ASEAN Leaders' Five-Point Consensus.

The Vietnamese Government leader also affirmed that Việt Nam would closely coordinate with Laos, the ASEAN Chair in 2024, to continue promoting ASEAN's cooperation goals.

At the Summit, PM Chính, along with the leaders of ASEAN countries, agreed to support the Philippines in assuming the role of ASEAN Chair in 2026. 

 At ASEAN, Philippines to advocate for ‘rules-based order’ in South China Sea

At ASEAN, Philippines to advocate for ‘rules-based order’ in South China Sea

 4-day ASEAN summit begins with meeting of foreign ministers in Indonesian capital

The Philippines on Monday said it will advocate for a “rules-based international order” in the disputed South China Sea during the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“My participation will highlight our advocacies in promoting a rules-based international order, including in the South China Sea, strengthening food security, calling for climate justice,” said Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Manila before flying to Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, where regional leaders will gather to attend 43rd ASEAN summit.

Indonesia, the current chair of the 10-member regional bloc, is hosting the summit from Monday to discuss the development and strengthening of cooperation between the bloc and its partners. Regional peace and political violence in junta-ruled Myanmar remain high on the agenda.

Marcos said he will “use this opportunity to advance Philippine priorities in ASEAN and work with other ASEAN member states not only in addressing the complex challenges facing the region, but also in pursuing opportunities for ASEAN as an ‘epicentrum of growth’.”

Several ASEAN members have maritime disputes with China in the minerals-rich South China Sea.

As Marcos flew to Jakarta, the Philippines and the US were conducting a bilateral maritime sail in the Philippine waters located west of Palawan.

In Jakarta, the ASEAN summit began with a meeting of foreign ministers of the member states.

Zambry Abd Kadir, the Malaysian foreign minister, said that unity and harmony among the member states “are crucial, especially when ASEAN is asserting itself to be the driver of a peaceful and stable region.”

However, he expressed “great disappointment” over the extension of the state of emergency in Myanmar.

Underlining the “prolonged political crisis” in Myanmar, Zambry also expressed concern on reports about the deteriorating economic situation, continued widespread violence and limited humanitarian access in the country.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

 Vietnam opposes China's new national map containing nine-dash line

Vietnam opposes China's new national map containing nine-dash line


China's new "2023 standard map" is a violation of sovereignty as it includes Vietnam's Spratly and Paracel islands within its infamous U-shaped line, the foreign affairs ministry has announced.

"The fact that China’s Ministry of Natural Resources has issued what’s called the '2023 standard map,' with the inclusion of Vietnam’s Paracel and Spratly islands as well as the dotted line, has violated Vietnam’s sovereignty over the islands, as well as its sovereignty, sovereignty rights and jurisdiction rights over Vietnam’s sea regions as determined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)," spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pham Thu Hang said in a press release issued Thursday.

China's sovereignty and sea claims based on the dotted line, as shown on the "standard map," therefore holds no value and violates international law, especially the UNCLOS, she added.

Vietnam continues to strongly affirm its consistent stance regarding sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel islands as well as resolutely opposing all of China’s claims on the South China Sea based on the dotted line, she said.

China has also engaged in artificial island-building and militarization in the East Sea with illegal construction on seven reefs of Vietnam's Spratly Islands.

Several other Southeast Asian countries have also rejected China's new map.

"Malaysia does not recognize China's claims in the South China Sea, as outlined in the 'China Standard Map 2023 Edition' which covers Malaysia's maritime area," Malaysia's foreign ministry said in a statement, as cited by AFP.

The map included claims in the sea which overlap with Malaysia's exclusive economic zone off the coast of the Sabah and Sarawak states on Borneo island.

The Philippines on Thursday asked China "to act responsibly and abide by its obligations" under international law and a 2016 arbitral ruling that had declared the line had no legal grounds.

"This latest attempt to legitimise China's purported sovereignty and jurisdiction over Philippine features and maritime zones has no basis under international law," the Philippine Foreign Ministry said, as cited by Reuters.

The new map was different to a version submitted by China to the United Nations in 2009 that included its so-called "nine-dash line." It had a 10-dash line that is similar to a 1948 map of China, and another map published by China in 2013.

The "standard map" that China’s natural resources ministry issued also includes disputed territories with India on the Himalayas. India, through diplomatic channels, has strongly opposed the inclusion, according to the spokesman of India’s Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi. New Delhi said two regions shown on the map, Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin, belong to India.

Asked about the latest map at a regular briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that "China's position on the South China Sea issue has always been clear."

"We hope that relevant parties can view this in an objective and rational manner," Wang said, as cited by Reuters.

The U-shaped line drawn up by China claims most of the South China Sea. The line has been internationally condemned and rejected for violating international law.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia reject China's latest South China Sea map

Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia reject China's latest South China Sea map


The Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have rejected as baseless a map released by China that denotes its claims to sovereignty including in the South China Sea and which Beijing said on Thursday should be viewed rationally and objectively.

China released the map on Monday of its famous U-shaped line covering about 90% of the South China Sea, a source of many of the disputes in one of the world's most contested waterways, where more than $3 trillion of trade passes each year.

The Philippines called on China on Thursday "to act responsibly and abide by its obligations" under international law and a 2016 arbitral ruling that had declared the line had no legal grounds.

Malaysia said it had filed a diplomatic protest over the map.

China says the line is based on its historic maps. It was not immediately clear whether the latest map denotes any new claim to territory.

China's U-shaped line loops as far as 1,500 km (932 miles) south of its Hainan island and cuts into the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

"This latest attempt to legitimise China's purported sovereignty and jurisdiction over Philippine features and maritime zones has no basis under international law," the Philippine Foreign Ministry said.

Its Malaysian counterpart in a statement said the new map holds no binding authority over Malaysia, which "also views the South China Sea as a complex and sensitive matter".

The map was different to a narrower version submitted by China to the United Nations in 2009 of the South China Sea that included its so-called "nine-dash line".

The latest map was of a broader geographical area and had a line with 10 dashes that included democratically governed Taiwan, similar to a 1948 map of China. China also published a map with a 10th dash in 2013.

Asked about the latest map, Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jeff Liu said Taiwan was "absolutely not a part of the People's Republic of China".

"No matter how the Chinese government twists its position on Taiwan's sovereignty, it cannot change the objective fact of our country's existence," he told a press briefing.

China is currently having a "national map awareness publicity week", state broadcaster China Central Television reported on Tuesday.

Asked why China had released the latest map with 10 dashes compared to one with nine dashes, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Beijing had been unambiguous about its territory.

"China's position on the South China Sea issue has always been clear. The competent authorities of China regularly update and release various types of standard maps every year," he told a regular briefing.

"We hope that relevant parties can view this in an objective and rational manner."

Late on Thursday, Vietnam's foreign ministry said China's claims based on the map have no value and violate Vietnamese and international laws.

Vietnam "resolutely rejects any claims in the East Sea by China that are based on the dashed line," Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Pham Thu Hang said in a statement, referring to the South China Sea.

Separately, Hang said Vietnamese authorities are seeking to clarify an allegation by Vietnamese fishermen that a Chinese vessel attacked their fishing boat with water canon earlier this week in the South China Sea, injuring two of them.

"Vietnam opposes the use of force against Vietnamese fishing boats operating normally at sea," she said in a statement sent to Reuters.

India said on Tuesday said it had lodged a strong protest with China over a new map that lays claim to India's territory, the latest irritant in testy ties between the Asian giants.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

“What Has China’s Lawfare Achieved in the South China Sea?” by Christian Schultheiss

“What Has China’s Lawfare Achieved in the South China Sea?” by Christian Schultheiss


China’s strategy in the South China Sea aims to enforce its invalidated claims, whereas recent legal actions by Southeast Asian claimant states seek to clarify claims and incentivise dispute settlement based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This photo taken on 23 April 2023 shows the Philippine coast guard vessel BRP Malapascua (R) manoeuvering as a Chinese coast guard ship cuts its path at Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea.


‘Lawfare’ is a popular term to generally describe different legal strategies of states to defend and promote their maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea (SCS). Dunlap originally defined ‘lawfare’ as “the strategy of using – or misusing – law as a substitute for traditional military means to achieve an operational objective.”[1] This definition notwithstanding, the literature has not produced a consensus on what types of activities qualify as lawfare and whether lawfare refers to a normatively negative, neutral or recommended practice.[2] In analyses of the SCS disputes, many types of activities have been labelled as ‘lawfare’, including China’s activities[3] and legal arguments to assert its maritime claims, the Philippines’ initiation of arbitral proceedings against China, Malaysia and Vietnam’s joint submission for an extended continental shelf, and US freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs). Such a liberal use of the term obscures the normative difference in the policies and practices of these countries, so much so that some legal experts have lamented that scholarship has “lost control of the concept of lawfare”,[4] and this applies to the SCS. This Perspective examines how China’s lawfare in the SCS is different from the legal actions undertaken by other countries, especially Southeast Asian claimant states. It also assesses the extent to which China’s lawfare has contributed to the realisation of its objectives in the SCS.


China’s excessive, yet ambiguous, claims in the SCS are illustrative of China’s instrumental use of legal language. China has adjusted the legal justification for its maritime claims even after the award of the South China Sea arbitration of 12 July 2016 invalidated the claims to maritime zones beyond the normal zones under UNCLOS. In a statement of 12 July 2016, China insisted on territorial claims to features, including the Paracel, Spratly and Pratas Islands and the Macclesfield Bank, and claims to a territorial sea, exclusive economic zone (EEZ), continental shelf (CS) and historic rights inside the Nine-dash line.[5]. In Notes Verbales to the Secretary-General of the UN of 2020 and 2021, China has then added a reference to “general international law” and “outlying archipelagos”.[6] Its Note Verbale dated 16 August 2021 says that “the regime of continental States’ outlying archipelagos is not regulated by UNCLOS, and the rules of general international law should continue to be applied in this field.” China now defends the alleged existence of “rights established in the long course of history” with reference to “general international law”. China’s argument relies on a provision in the Preamble of UNCLOS which states that “matters not regulated by this Convention continue to be governed by the rules and principles of general international law”.[7] In its Notes Verbales dated 29 July 2020, 18 September 2020, 28 January 2021 and 16 August 2021, China insists that “general international law” is the legal basis for drawing “territorial sea baselines” around China’s claimed features, including submerged reefs, in the SCS.[8] China’s reference to this provision ostensibly invokes an alternative legal basis for its claims.

Yet, the matters regarding the extent of maritime rights and baselines are comprehensively regulated by UNCLOS. Based on UNCLOS, the 2016 arbitral tribunal has clarified the types and the maximum extent of maritime zones that China can claim.[9] The tribunal discussed in detail the differences between an “island” that generates entitlement to an EEZ and CS, and a “rock” that generates entitlement to only a territorial sea.[10] UNCLOS also regulates the question of baselines, i.e., the “normal baseline” is the “low-water line along the coast” (Art. 5); “straight baselines” can be used where the “coastline is deeply intended and cut into, or if there is a fringe of islands along the coast in its immediate vicinity” (Art. 7 (1)); and only archipelagic states “may draw straight archipelagic baselines” subject to further provisions (Art. 47). China’s insistence on “territorial sea baselines” around “islands and reefs” based on a “long established practice” and “general international law”[11] is a slightly reframed version of positions that the South China Sea arbitral tribunal has already rejected. The arbitral tribunal did not accept the view that China can enclose the Spratlys within archipelagic or straight baselines – neither under UNCLOS nor under customary international law.[12] Several states, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the US, Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, and New Zealand, have therefore expressed their opposition to China’s insistence on invalidated claims, and stated their support for various aspects of the tribunal’s ruling.[13]

In China’s view, its Southeast Asian neighbours must make room for China’s historically based claims to maritime zones even after the arbitration ruling decided that these claims are inconsistent with UNCLOS and customary law of the sea. Some scholars see this assertion as an attempt to promote an alternative vision for the law of the sea.[14] However, this vision has arguably remained a quest for enforcing particularistic claims rather than promoting a comprehensive re-writing of the law of the sea. After decades of disputes in the SCS, no alternative Chinese vision for the law of the sea beyond its particularistic claims has emerged. In China’s reference to “rights formed in the long course of history”, there is no indication that China believes that other states can claim historic rights too. China’s use of legal language in defence of these claims does not engage in a quest for a universally accepted interpretation of the rule of law at sea. The scope of these particularistic claims, though, is such that they would upend fundamental balances underlying UNCLOS, especially the fact that no state is allowed to claim maritime rights beyond the normal limits or the balance between exclusive rights of coastal states and navigational rights of user states. Even though Chinese sources and documents repeatedly affirm China’s compliance with UNCLOS,[15] China’s claims are so excessive that they would multiply the normal entitlements provided for under UNCLOS.

What makes China’s lawfare activities distinctive from those of other states in the legal domain of the SCS?

First, the instrumental use of law is not peculiar to China’s activities. US FONOPs in the SCS have been called ‘lawfare’ based on the argument that these operations merely “instrumentalise law for furthering parochial political interests, including military objectives”.[16] According to this argument, FONOPs “ostensibly [serve] to further the rule of law over the rule of force” while in reality serving political and strategic interests. Granted, the idea of instrumentalising law is regularly evoked as a characteristic element of lawfare.[17] However, this view, which considers a certain practice as lawfare merely because it uses law as an instrument, sets the threshold for lawfare too low. An instrumental use of law – such as US FONOPs, which are allowed under UNCLOS (Art. 87 and Art. 90) – is neither inconsistent per se with an interest of acting within a legal order nor is it necessarily reproachable.

The Philippines’ decision to launch arbitral proceedings against China – supposedly an instance of the Philippine lawfare strategy – is another case in point. This type of lawfare reflects “the recognition…of the (actual or potential) utility of international law in shaping, constraining, and altering the behaviour of states”.[18] According to this argument, the Philippines’ initiation of arbitration deserves the label ‘lawfare’ because it served the Philippines strategically as the option of last resort. Yet, the Philippines’ recourse to arbitration under Annex VII of UNCLOS is entirely permissible and a right provided for under UNCLOS. According to the UN General Assembly’s Manila Declaration, “[r]ecourse to judicial settlement of legal disputes, particularly referral to the International Court of Justice, should not be considered an unfriendly act between States.”[19] It is therefore questionable whether the term ‘lawfare’ should be used for legitimate legal actions such as arbitral proceedings. The joint submission of Malaysia and Vietnam for an extended continental shelf to the Commission for the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) has also been characterised as lawfare.[20] The joint submission, however, is a normatively recommended practice which is within the exercise of the rights and obligations of coastal states under Art. 76(8) of UNCLOS. It is part of the legal processes that can indeed incentivise the settlement of disputes, since these legal processes are used to communicate claims, to clarify their legal basis, and to establish law as a framework for negotiations and interactions.[21]

China’s activities in the legal domain starkly contrast with those of the Philippines or Malaysia and Vietnam both factually and normatively. The former is a type of lawfare that obscures claims and insists on invalidated claims whereas the latter tries to clarify claims and incentivise dispute settlement based on UNCLOS provisions.


A key objective of China’s lawfare in the SCS is to provide a rhetorical cover for its changes of the factual status quo.[22] However, the fact that China has effectively changed the status quo, for instance by building outposts on islands or increasing the frequency and reach of coast guard patrols, does not mean that China has succeeded in creating the presumption that the enforcement of its invalidated claims is anywhere near legal. This is especially the case where such changes of status quo contradict the 2016 arbitration ruling.

Assuming that China’s lawfare combines deliberate ambiguity surrounding its excessive claims and the enforcement of particularistic claims in the SCS,[23] it is still not clear what China’s lawfare has achieved in the legal domain in the last decade. It is often pointed out that the ambiguity of China’s claims, including its historic rights, is a deliberate policy choice that offers Beijing a degree of flexibility and room for manoeuvre.[24] Ambiguity about legal claims, the nature of disputes and the actors involved in disputes are certainly characteristic elements of grey zone challenges.[25] In this regard, ambiguity has been part of the attempt to maintain doubt about the excessiveness of China’s claim. This doubt, in turn, has served as a rhetorical cover for unilateral advancements of claims. While the exact scope and purpose of the ambiguity in China’s maritime claims may be debatable,[26] the arbitration ruling has put an end to the ambiguity about claims.[27] The ruling confirmed the Philippines’ point of view that China can only claim the normal entitlements under UNCLOS, which all other countries can also do.[28] The ruling established the types and the maximum extent of maritime zones that China can claim.[29] It thereby clarified that (i) if “historic rights” had existed, these “were superseded… by the limits of the maritime zones provided for by the Convention”;[30] (ii) no feature in the Spratly Islands or Scarborough Shoal can generate a claim to an EEZ or CS; and (iii) neither UNCLOS nor customary international law permits China to draw straight or archipelagic baselines around the Spratly Islands.[31] In other words, whatever the impression of plausibility regarding China’s maritime claims beyond the normal claims that may have resulted from China’s lawfare in the past, the arbitration ruling has put it to rest.

Importantly, this point is reflected in the growing international support for the arbitration ruling. Pre-ruling, 31 states objected to the arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction or otherwise considered it to be illegitimate.[32] Yet, only six states have expressed opposition since the tribunal issued its award in 2016.[33] Crucially, there is a growing number of states officially backing substantive elements of the award in their respective Notes Verbales to the UN or in their public statements. These include the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, the US, Australia, Malaysia, France, Germany, the UK, Japan, New Zealand and India.[34] As of today, only China objected to the tribunal’s jurisdiction and award in its Notes Verbales to the UN.[35]

These reactions from states around the world demonstrate that there is no general, established practice accepted as law that would allow China to claim historic rights and draw straight baselines around different groups of features in the SCS as its lawfare has tried to argue. On this issue of the law of the sea where China’s claims are in dispute with its neighbours and other maritime nations, China is no closer to promoting an alternative vision for the law of the sea than a decade ago. Not even the states that China mentions as objecting to the arbitration ruling argue that states can generally claim historic rights under international law. Moreover, while China and several other states defend a restrictive view on the scope of navigational freedoms of warships and innocent passage, there is no sign of coalition-building among these states.

The analysis does not imply, though, that China has not made lasting achievements in asserting its presence and control in the SCS. Land reclamation and the building of outposts have allowed China to increase the frequency and geographic reach of its naval and coast guard patrols in distant parts of the SCS. But this improvement in de facto reach of state power cannot be attributed to any conception of lawfare. Quite the opposite. The progress China has made on the ground is commensurate with the gap between China’s leadership aspirations and the distrust Southeast Asian elites have towards China. In the 2023 State of Southeast Asia Survey by the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, regional trust in China to maintain rules-based order and uphold international law was very low, at 5.3%, well behind the US (27.1%), the EU (23%), ASEAN (21%) and Japan (8.6%).[36]

That said, the response of members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to China’s behaviour in the SCS remains ineffective. ASEAN-related fora are “strategically incompatible” to cope with the disputes.[37] Even Southeast Asian claimant states remain a fragmented mix. They do not share a strong consensus on precise and meaningful provisions for a code of conduct.[38] They lack a cohesive position on how envisioned regional ocean governance should be in line with the arbitration ruling. However, even where Southeast Asian responses to China’s activities remain underperforming, this cannot be attributed to China’s lawfare but to existing differences and disputes among Southeast Asian states as well as their cognition of the vast power asymmetry with China.

Despite years of lawfare in the SCS, China has not made gains in the legal domain. Traditional legal approaches to clarify the law, especially arbitration, have pulled away any legal cover that China’s lawfare in the SCS may have provided. What is left of China’s lawfare is the attempt to push through particularistic claims in contravention of the law of the sea as the arbitral tribunal and many states in the international community conceive it.


As the law of the sea is relatively well codified, at least in comparison to other international legal regimes, strategic interactions in the SCS take place “in the shadow” of the law of the sea. Analyses of the SCS disputes often use the term ‘lawfare’ to capture state choices surrounding the formulation of claims, the use of legal processes or naval operations that are subject to both legal and strategic considerations. Being used as a catch-all phrase for interactions between law and strategy in the SCS, this term obscures rather than reveals how the use of certain legal activities and processes is motivated by strategic considerations or how it can further them.

While China’s activities in the legal domain can be dubbed a lawfare strategy, China has not achieved much in the legal domain. To the contrary, traditional legal processes such as arbitration have resulted in a clarification of the applicable law, which pulled away any legal cover for changes of the status quo that lawfare may have provided. This is a lasting achievement of the South China Sea arbitration ruling. A good way to counter lawfare is the use of traditional legal processes. The fact that the ruling has witnessed increasing international support in the last few years lends credence to the idea that China’s lawfare in the SCS has been ineffective. Southeast Asian claimant states should build upon the momentum of the ruling by negotiating instruments of ocean governance in the SCS, i.e., fisheries management, marine protected areas and improved maritime law enforcement cooperation, that are consistent with and build upon the ruling. Consolidating the ruling in this way is certainly one avenue for countering China’s activities in the SCS.

 China asked to respect Vietnamese sovereignty over Hoang Sa

China asked to respect Vietnamese sovereignty over Hoang Sa


China’s action of bringing part of Hoang Sa, known internationally as the Paracel Islands, into the area of military exercises taking place in the East Sea from July 29 to August 2 has seriously violated Vietnamese sovereignty over the archipelago.

Pham Thu Hang, spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, made the statement in response to queries about the country’s reaction to Chinese military exercises coveing part of the Paracel Islands under the nation’s sovereignty at the Ministry’s routine press briefing in Hanoi on August 3.

“This action went against the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), complicated the situation, and was not conducive to the current negotiation process between China and ASEAN on the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) and the maintenance of a peaceful, stable and cooperative environment in the East Sea.

Vietnam resolutely opposes and asks China to respect Vietnam's sovereignty over the Paracel and not repeat similar violations,” Hang said.

This comes after China's Maritime Safety Administration announced that the country's military conducted a large military exercise in the East Sea from July 29 to August 2.

The exercise area stretches from Hainan Island to part of the East Sea, including part of the Vietnamese Hoang Sa archipelago. During the exercise, China banned ships from entering the exercise area.

 Top legislator’s visit to boost Vietnam-Indonesia strategic partnership

Top legislator’s visit to boost Vietnam-Indonesia strategic partnership

 National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue’s upcoming attendance at the 44th General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-44) and official visit to Indonesia from August 4 will help promote Vietnam’s parliamentary cooperation with other ASEAN countries and create a new motivation for the Vietnam-Indonesia strategic partnership.

Vice Chairwoman of the National Assembly Committee for Foreign Affairs Le Thu Ha made the comment in an interview with the media on the threshold of Hue’s trip.

Ha said that for AIPA-44, Vietnam has actively proposed three draft resolutions on “Digital transformation led by women and for women”, “Promoting innovation, transfer, application and development of science and technology for sustainable growth and development”, and “Promoting the adoption of ASEAN guidelines on responsible investment in the food, agriculture and forestry sectors”.

The three resolutions, to be introduced at meetings of Women Parliamentarians of AIPA (WAIPA) and the AIPA Economic Committee are very important, as they can help ASEAN exploit its advantages in science and technology and innovation to serve economic recovery and development; and make most of potential to develop the food and agro-forestry sectors.

In addition, Vietnam has also actively contributed ideas to other draft resolutions at the Economic Committee, Social Committee, Political Committee and will co-sponsor draft resolutions in these committees with other countries, Ha said.

Regarding the top legislator’s official visit to Indonesia, Ha said that this is the first trip by Hue as Chairman of the National Assembly and also the first by a top legislator of Vietnam to Indonesia after 13 years, since the visit by National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong in 2010.

The visit takes place in the context that the two countries are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the strategic partnership, and considering to upgrade the ties to the next level.

It aims to continue implementing the 13th National Party Congress’s foreign policy, and actively consolidate and expand the political relationship between the two countries, and promote bilateral effective and practical cooperation in all fields, and via the Party, National Assembly, Government and people's diplomacy channels, thus contributing to enhancing political trust.

The visit’s message affirms the priority Vietnam gives to developing and promoting friendship and multi-faceted collaboration with traditional friends in the region, in order to open up new opportunities in the field of economy and trade, and create a new impetus to strengthen the bilateral strategic partnership in a more extensive and effective manner.

During his trip, Hue will hold talks and meetings with high-ranking Indonesian leaders and attend a number of other important events.

Ha added that the two countries’ legislative bodies have maintained good relations through regular delegation exchanges, and coordination and stance sharing on regional and international issues of mutual concern at multilateral forums.

She expressed her hope that with cooperation potential and determination of leaders of Vietnam and Indonesia, the relations between the two parliaments will grow further in the coming time.

 Canadian expert hails Vietnamese initiatives in ASEAN

Canadian expert hails Vietnamese initiatives in ASEAN


Vietnam has made an important contribution to the operation of ASEAN through initiatives aimed at dealing with challenges and issues occurring in the bloc, such as responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating the negotiation process for a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), and advocating the five-point consensus on Myanmar.

This assessment was made by Jonathan Berkshire Miller, director of Foreign Affairs of National Security and Defence at the Ottawa-based Macdonald-Laurier Institute, who is an expert on international affairs related to security, defence, and geoeconomics in the Indo-Pacific region.

According to Miller, cohesion is a vital part of all areas in ASEAN, meaning the Vietnamese approach to maintaining cohesion on issues such as the COC is very important. 

He went on to stress the need for proactivity in the bloc in order to respond to a potential crisis in the future. The nation, especially during the pandemic, has taken significant proactive measures, he said in a recent media interview given on the occasion of Vietnam's 28th anniversary of ASEAN membership, with the country joining the bloc in 1995.

The Canadian expert added that the nation has made important contributions to building the three pillars of the ASEAN Community, namely the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).

Regarding APSC, the country calls for appropriate behaviour on the East Sea issue, with responses and actions from ASEAN to achieve the goal of ensuring the security and resources of the region as a whole. According to Miller, it is essential to have a fair share and respect for international laws, as well as freedom of navigation. Through this initiative, Vietnam is also trying to promote serious political dialogues in Myanmar, he noted.

With regard to the economic pillar, the nation is currently part of many regional trade agreements, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The leading Vietnamese role is not limited to just a few of these issues, but is also motivating other ASEAN members to implement certain reforms in a bid to lift their economy to a higher level, he went on.

Regarding ASCC, Miller underlined the nation’s respect for different ethnic minority groups and different languages in the same country, saying that the way the country  handles harmony between various ethnic groups and highlights cultural diversity is really a positive aspect of the nation’s functionality.

 Vietnam opposes China's illegal drills at Paracel Islands

Vietnam opposes China's illegal drills at Paracel Islands


Vietnam has requested that China stop all acts that violate Vietnam’s sovereignty, including military drills at the Paracel Islands.

"China’s inclusion of part of the Paracel Islands in a military drill area in the East Sea from July 29 to August 2 seriously infringed on Vietnam’s sovereignty over the archipelago," saidspokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pham Thu Hang at a press conference on Thursday.

Hang said the act went against the spirit of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and complicated the situation and was not conducive to the ongoing negotiations between China and ASEAN on the Code of Conduct between Parties in the South China Sea (COC) and the maintenance of a peaceful, stable and cooperation in the East Sea.

"Vietnam resolutely opposes [the drills] and asks China to respect Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracel Islands and avoid the repeat of similar violations."

Chinese authorities last week forbade vessels from entering a sea region to the northeast of the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea, including parts of Vietnam’s Paracel Islands, from July 27 to August 2, for a military drill.

China has been illegally occupying the Paracel Islands since 1974. Vietnam has multiple times affirmed that it has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly islands in accordance with international law.

Friday, August 4, 2023

 Vietnam asks the Philippines to strictly handle case involving torn Vietnamese flag

Vietnam asks the Philippines to strictly handle case involving torn Vietnamese flag


The Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reacted to the recent organised protest held in front of the Vietnamese Embassy in Manila by a group of Filipinos who used the occasion to tear Vietnamese flag.

The act of damaging the national flag of Vietnam is an insult to the feelings of the Vietnamese people and must be strongly condemned, said Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Pham Thu Hang at the ministry’s regular press conference in Hanoi on August 3 in reply to reporters’ question regarding Vietnam’s response to the incident.

 The red flag with a yellow star in the centre is the sacred national flag of Vietnam, she said.

The spokesperson demanded that the Philippines handle the incident seriously, take effective measures to prevent such action which could affect the sound and growing strategic partnership between the two nations.

 Vietnam, Singapore build on 50th diplomatic ties

Vietnam, Singapore build on 50th diplomatic ties

 The Vietnam – Singapore relations have grown strongly based on the high level of trust at the political level, win-win partnerships, and enhanced people-to-people exchange, according to Singaporean Ambassador to Vietnam Jaya Ratnam.

He made the affirmation during an interview with the Vietnam News Agency on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Singapore – Vietnam diplomatic relations, and 10th anniversary of their Strategic Partnership.

ReporterVietnam and Singapore are going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, and 10th anniversary of Strategic Partnership. What are the highlights of the bilateral ties and prospects for the coming years?

Ambassador Jaya Ratnam: 2023 marks several important milestones for our relations. It has been 50 years since Singapore and Vietnam established diplomatic relations, and 10 years since we established our Strategic Partnership. Our bilateral relations have grown tremendously over these years.

Let me highlight three areas where we have made tremendous strides.

First, our leaders built strong trust with one another. In 1991, the late Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet asked Mr Lee Kuan Yew to advise Vietnam on opening up its economy. This marked the beginning of a close personal relationship between successive generations of our leaders. Even today, we continue to reap the benefits of that foundation.

Second, we prioritised economic development. One of the most important projects is the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP). In 1994, then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong proposed the idea to Prime Minister Kiet. Vietnam had been experiencing rapid growth since the Doi Moi Reforms in 1986, and the VSIP leveraged the complementarity of our countries to drive economic growth.

Third, we worked together to build a prosperous and peaceful Southeast Asia under ASEAN. ASEAN welcomed Vietnam’s accession in 1995, and Vietnam has made critical and important contributions to our regional peace and stability. Regionally, Singapore and Vietnam share similar outlooks on many issues and a commitment to the importance of multilateralism and international law. We are committed to upholding ASEAN Centrality and unity to preserve the international rules-based order. ASEAN is our common pillar of regional partnership and it gives us credibility when we engage external partners as well.

Fast-forward to today, and you can see how our relationship has grown and continues to grow very rapidly. Our leaders meet regularly and enjoy excellent rapport. Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh made a successful Official Visit to Singapore in February this year, and we look forward to reciprocating with a visit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Vietnam very soon. We exchanged State Visits in 2022, and President Halimah Yacob also had a very good introductory meeting with President Vo Van Thuong recently in London.

More broadly, we have developed various longstanding, and unique institutionalised frameworks for cooperation. The Singapore-Vietnam Connectivity Framework Agreement (CFA) which was launched in 2006 provides a platform where our economic ministries, and their associated agencies, coordinate positions, give direction and monitor progress on strengthening our cooperation further. In keeping with our broadening bilateral agenda, the CFA has expanded to include discussions on innovation, energy, and digitalisation.

Similarly, we have also close ties with the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), with regular interactions at all levels as we seek to learn from each other’s experiences and identify fresh areas where we can work with each other for mutual benefit.

Reporter: Despite global downturns, Singapore continued to be the leading source of FDI in Vietnam by pouring US$3 billion into the country during January – June. How would you assess the country’s business climate, what would you suggest the Vietnamese Government do to elevate the country’s competitive edge?

Ambassador Jaya Ratnam: Economic cooperation has been the cornerstone of our bilateral relationship. Vietnam has consistently been one of Asia’s top performers. Singaporean businesses are confident in Vietnam’s long-term economic prospects. Hence since 2020, Singapore has been one of Vietnam’s top sources of foreign investment. This is a vote of confidence in Vietnam’s future. As of December 2022, Singapore was Vietnam’s second-largest foreign investor with a cumulative investment of US$70.8 billion. Top Singapore investment sectors in Vietnam are transportation & storage, manufacturing, real estate activities, accommodation, food services, financial & insurance services and wholesale & retail trade. In 2022, our bilateral trade grew by just over 16% year-on-year to reach US$23.5 billion. Overall, I am confident that our economic ties will grow from strength to strength, especially as we identify new priorities for growth under our Green and Digital Economic Partnership.

Reporter: How do you evaluate the potentials for both nations to boost trade ties to the next level?

Ambassador Jaya Ratnam: Looking ahead, there are many opportunities to work together in new growth areas. These include the digital economy, renewable energy, carbon credits, cybersecurity, and sustainable infrastructure.

Hence, when Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh visited Singapore in February 2023, both countries agreed to embark on the Green-Digital Economic Partnership (GDEP). This Partnership is an umbrella framework, which upgrades our bilateral relationship by focusing on energy, sustainability, infrastructure, digital economy and innovation, as well as connectivity. This will not only support the green and digital aspirations of both our countries, but also allow our cooperation to serve as a pathfinder in ASEAN as well.

In this regard, there are three areas where Singapore and Vietnam are looking to work hand-in-hand to seize the opportunities of the next decade and deepen our cooperation.

First, innovation. Singapore and Vietnam are among the top three start-up eco-systems in Southeast Asia. With our common goal of driving economic growth through technology and innovation, there is scope for Singapore and Vietnam to tap on each other’s innovation eco-systems for partnerships, funding and talent.

Second, energy connectivity. Singapore and Vietnam share a common vision of achieving net zero by 2050. The scaling up of renewable energy and development of regional power grids will not only support our individual decarbonisation efforts, but also promote greater infrastructural connectivity to help advance the region’s sustainable energy goals.

Third, sustainability. We urgently need to accelerate climate action to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Carbon markets can play a critical role in supporting countries’ decarbonisation, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors. In October 2022, Singapore and Vietnam signed an MOU to collaborate on carbon credits, aligned with Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. This puts both Singapore and Vietnam in excellent positions to capture the opportunities generated by carbon markets. We look forward to jointly implementing carbon credit generating projects in the coming years ahead. Our projects can help spur a more vibrant carbon market in the region.

Reporter: While economic cooperation is a pillar in the Vietnam – Singapore relationship, cultural collaboration between the two sides has not been tapped to the fullest extent. What are your recommendations for both nations to promote cultural exchange?

Ambassador Jaya Ratnam: Our partnership goes well beyond the dollars and cents of trade and investment. The most important pillar is our people-to-people relationship.

Post-COVID, Singaporeans and Vietnamese have resumed tourism, education, and cultural interactions. Vietnam has always been, and continues to be, a popular destination among our students for exchange programmes and study visits. Similarly, Singapore has always welcomed Vietnamese students into our country and educational institutions, where they have contributed much energy, passion, and talent.

Vietnam is also our top partner for the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP). More than 21,000 Vietnamese officials have attended SCP courses, and Singapore will continue to share our experiences with Vietnamese officials, provinces, and municipalities to support Vietnam’s development.

One area where we are pressing ahead is to increase opportunities for our youth to engage each other. Our latest initiative will be the inaugural Singapore-Vietnam Youth Leaders Exchange Programme (SVYLEP) 2023 scheduled to take place in August 2023.

As we look forward, the future for Singapore-Vietnam relations is bright and full of promise. It is for this reason that we have chosen to conclude our 50/10 celebrations with an event called Spotlight Singapore in Vietnam (SSV), which will bring more than 200 youths, artists, and young entrepreneurs from Singapore to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to participate in a series of cultural, sports and business events from October 19 to 25 this year. It is through such networks of friendship that we will continue to sustain and grow our relations in the coming decades.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

 Vietnam, Philippines promote sea and ocean cooperation, timely handle sea issues

Vietnam, Philippines promote sea and ocean cooperation, timely handle sea issues


Vietnam and the Philippines will promote sea and ocean cooperation, enhance information sharing and coordinate closely in timely handling issues arising at sea, including combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The agreement was reached at the 10th meeting of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation between Vietnam and the Philippines co-chaired by Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son and Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines Enrique Manalo, in Hanoi on August 2.

The two sides agreed to increase high-level visit exchanges in the coming time, especially a visit to Vietnam by Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. and at the same time effectively implement bilateral cooperation mechanisms, including meetings of the Joint Permanent Working Group on Maritime and Ocean Concerns (JPWG-MOC), the Joint Sub-Committee on Trade, the Joint Working Group on Agriculture, the Joint Working Group in the fisheries sector.

They pledged to draft an Action Program to implement the Strategic Partnership for the 2025-2030 period, strengthen defense - security cooperation, and strive to soon raise two-way trade turnover to US$10 billion soon, with a primary focus on rice trading.

The two sides also consented to ramp up cooperation in other important fields such as agriculture, culture, tourism, education, transportation, science - technology, environment, and people-to-people exchanges.

They vowed to further coordinate and support each other at multilateral forums, especially at ASEAN and the United Nations, while underlining the need to maintain the unity and central role of ASEAN and promote the grouping’s sub-regional cooperation, contributing to building a strong and prosperous community.

Secretary Manalo assured his host that the Philippines always attaches great importance to consolidating and developing the friendly, cooperative and multi-faceted relations with Vietnam, the Philippines’ only strategic partner in ASEAN.

The two ministers signed the minutes of the meeting and agreed to hold the next meeting in 2025.

On this occasion, Secretary Manalo respectfully invited Minister Son to visit the Philippines at an appropriate time.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

India Revises Stance on China-Philippines Maritime Dispute as New Delhi Looks East

India Revises Stance on China-Philippines Maritime Dispute as New Delhi Looks East


India Revises Stance on China-Philippines Maritime Dispute as New Delhi Looks East
India revised its position on the 2016 South China Sea Arbitration last week in a meeting between Indian and Filipino diplomats that supports Manila’s territorial claims over China.
The revised stance on the arbitration, which countered China’s South China Sea claims, including the Nine-Dash Line and favored the Philippines in a territorial dispute, comes as India increases security engagement with countries in Southeast Asia.
India revealed its new attitude on the 2016 ruling in a joint statement on the 5th India-Philippines Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation, where Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met in New Delhi from June 27-30 to discuss a variety of issues between the two countries.
In 2013, the Philippines filed an arbitration case against the People’s Republic of China concerning the latter’s activities in the SCS. The Philippines focused its case on the legal status of maritime features, particularly on the definition of what is and what isn’t an island. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, only islands can extend the reach of a country’s exclusive economic area. This does not extend to artificially made islands, such as those made by China in the Spratlys.
By 2016, the arbitration ruled that many of Beijing’s features in the SCS were not islands, but rather rocks or low-tide elevations.
The award also discredited the Nine-Dash Line, China’s justification for its claims. Beijing has used the Nine-Dash Line to claim SCS features hundreds of miles away from mainland China. One of these features includes Scarborough Shoal, a maritime feature around 120 nautical miles from the Philippines’. In 2012, Scarborough was the site of a Philippine-Sino flashpoint after Chinese vessels occupied the shoal.
One issue the two diplomats stressed was their “shared interest in a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region,” according to the statement. The joint statement called for peaceful dispute settlements, as well as adherence to international law. The two countries specifically referenced UNCLOS and the 2016 arbitral award on the South China Sea.
China does not recognize the ruling despite the Philippines winning the arbitration in an international court. The 2016 arbitration, described by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as “null and void and has no binding force,” has led to no changes in China’s stance and expansion throughout the SCS.
Before India’s call for adherence, New Delhi only acknowledged the outcome of the award. However, with the flareup of the Sino-Indian border dispute in the last few years and its role in the Quad’s vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, India has become more supportive of countries across the region such as the Philippines.
While India has previously “committed to a non-aligned position and is reluctant to take sides in issues involving major power competition,” the country also “recognizes that China is the only major power that poses a direct threat to its security interests, both on its border and in the Indian Ocean,” said Raymond Powell, Project Myoushu lead at Stanford University.
“Supporting the 2016 arbitral tribunal decision enables India to take a principled position in support of international law without aligning with any of the great powers, while still supporting its own national security interests,” Powell told USNI News.
Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran highlighted concerns shared by India and the Philippines about China in an interview with Gising Na. India learned it needs to “have a very firm and robust response to ensure our interests are safeguarded,” he said.
New Delhi’s enhanced security ties with the Philippines is a part of India’s “Act East Policy,” which aims to increase ties with countries across the Indo-Pacific. Many of India’s efforts under this policy, especially regarding defense cooperation, can be seen throughout Southeast Asia.
Manalo and Jaishankar also discussed Indian-Philippine maritime and defense cooperation, which included maritime exercises, enhanced coast guard collaboration, a line of credit for military equipment and the acquisition of naval assets. The Philippines previously bought India’s BrahMos anti-ship cruise missile and is slated to become the first foreign operator of the system outside of India.
Many of the countries that benefit from the 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling are India’s customers for Indian defense sales, Powell said. This includes the Brahmos missile systems.
India seeks to export its BrahMos anti-ship missiles to states around the SCS. Reuters reported that the missiles have been pitched to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. BrahMos’ manufacturers also expect the Philippines to procure more missiles for its Army later this year.
One of India’s closest security partners in Southeast Asia is Vietnam. New Delhi’s security assistance to Vietnam has taken a keen focus on the construction and transfer of maritime assets. Previously, Vietnam received a $100 million Line of Credit to procure 12 High-Speed Guard Boats. India also recently announced the transfer of INS Kiripan (P44) to the Vietnam People’s Navy, a first between the two countries. The Khukri-class corvette is currently en route to Vietnam.
Together with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, India held the first-ever ASEAN-Indian Maritime Exercise this year from May 2-8. AIMEX 2023 aimed to enhance “Maritime Cooperation and enhancing trust, friendship and confidence amongst ASEAN and Indian Navies.” However, during the last phase of the exercise in the South China Sea the ASEAN-Indian flotilla passed a China Maritime Militia formation, Powell tweeted at the time.
The Indian Navy also holds several goodwill activities annually throughout the region. Indian warships commonly hold coordinated patrol exercises with the Royal Thai and Indonesian Navies. A month before the arrival of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), INS Delhi (D61) and INS Satpura (F48) visited Danang, Vietnam.
‘Barbie’ movie banned in Vietnam over China's invalid 9-dash line

‘Barbie’ movie banned in Vietnam over China's invalid 9-dash line


The United States’ live-action feature film ‘Barbie’ is banned from screening in Vietnam for featuring a map depicting the illicit “nine-dash line” that China uses to illegally claim its sovereignty over most of the East Vietnam Sea.

Vi Kien Thanh, head of the Vietnam Cinema Department, confirmed the ban to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Monday.

The ban was issued by the Central Council of Feature Film Evaluation and Classification, Thanh said.

‘Barbie’ was set to hit theaters in Vietnam on July 21, when the United States will release the firm.

However, the ban has prompted the managers of all cinema chains across Vietnam such as Galaxy and CGV to withdraw the live-action feature movie from their lists of upcoming films.

Vietnam had earlier either blocked many films or removed some ones from cinemas as these movies, mainly produced by China, contain the illegal nine-dash line map.

Barbie is one of the most anticipated movies this year. The film was directed by Greta Gerwig, starring Margot Robbie as Barbie, and Ryan Gosling as her boyfriend Ken.

Last year, Vietnam blocked America’s ‘Uncharted’, which stars Tom Holland, for the illicit nine-dash line.