Friday 19 August 2016

Tension in Asia- Pacific

False’ Report on Vietnam Rocket Launchers Sparked Chaos in South China Sea

A 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.

18 August, 2016
On 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.
The 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.
Reuters 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 international incident.
On 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."
The Hong Kong-based Asia Times asserted 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."

Hanoi 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 (UNCLOS).

Artillery 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.

On 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.
Dozens 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
South 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.
North 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.
In 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.
Pyongyang 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.
The 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.

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