Report on Vietnam Rocket Launchers Sparked Chaos in South China Sea
Reuters report citing unnamed Western officials that Vietnam had
deployed rocket launchers to the Spratly Islands and pointed them
toward Chinese facilities led Beijing to call on Hanoi to “remember”
the 1979 War that led to 137,000 Vietnamese deaths.
Thursday, Vietnam again refuted a Reuters report that it allegedly
deployed rocket launchers to bases in the Spratly islands —
allegations that led Beijing this weekend to remind Hanoi
about previous wars which many view as a not-so-veiled
threat to attack Vietnam.
diplomatic row began following an August 10 Reuters report
suggesting that "Vietnam has discreetly fortified several of its
islands in the disputed South China Sea with new mobile
rocket launchers," in recent months.
also reported that Vietnam’s foreign ministry said the information
about the deployment of rocket launchers, based on unnamed
Western officials, was "inaccurate." Despite the
countervailing statement by Vietnam and the lack of satellite
photography or other tangible evidence to substantiate the
report, the news outlet chose to run the story, sparking an
August 11, the Global Times, a subsidiary of the Chinese
Communist Party’s People’s Daily, published a piece titled
"Restraint crucial to avoid new crisis in South China
Sea." The article warned that, "If Vietnam’s latest
deployment is targeting China, that would be a terrible mistake. We
hope Vietnam will remember and draw some lessons from history."
Hong Kong-based Asia Timesasserted
that Vietnam would only place rockets on the Spratly islands
as a defensive response. "Even if it had made such a move –
or will make any similar attempt in the future – that is
mainly a defensive act and a reaction to China’s action in the
South China Sea."
insists on the resolution of maritime disputes by peaceful
means and in accordance with international law, including
the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
drills on the North Korean border constitute a stark escalation in
South Korea’s military practice, causing concern that Pyongyang may
react amid heightened provocation.
Thursday, South Korea’s army conducted its largest-ever artillery
drills near the tense border with North Korea, risking an
escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
of military units along the border on Thursday
deployed some 300 artillery systems that simultaneously fired shells
in multiple directions, according to an army official, who
spoke on condition of anonymity to Military.com.
Korea’s front-line army units have engaged in numerous
live-fire drills over the years, but the number
of artillery mobilized in Thursday’s drill is the highest
on the Korean peninsula to date, and simultaneous firing
from all major front-line areas constitutes a stark departure
from previous exercises, according to the army official.
Korea has long stated that it is under threat of a nuclear
attack from the United States. Washington has undertaken the
practice of flying B-2 and B-52 bombers over the country,
sending a stern message to Pyongyang that the United States
stands with South Korea. The North has also said that they view
the escalation of war games by the United States as a
"dress rehearsal" for a full-scale invasion.
response to being added to the existing sanctions
against Pyongyang, Kim Jong-un, the country’s supreme leader,
declared war on the United States two weeks ago.
in recent months has not only escalated its rhetoric, but also
brandished its weapons systems. North Korea has engaged in numerous
tests of mid-range ballistic missiles in recent months,
with increasing sophistication according to Western defense
analysts. The country announced Wednesday that the Yongbyon nuclear
facility, used for creating weapons-grade nuclear material, had
been reactivated after having been suspended in 2007
as part of an agreement forged in six-party talks.
potential for hostilities faces an additional upgrade,
with Thursday marking the 40th anniversary of the 1976 "ax
murder incident" in which two US soldiers were hacked
to death by North Koreans during a border area clash
over US efforts to trim a tree. Thursday also marks the
one-year anniversary of an artillery exchange on the
peninsula, following two South Korean soldiers being maimed
by land mine explosions.