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The Fight to Control the South China Sea
One of the major ongoing stories coming out of Asia is which country has control over a certain region of the South China Sea. There are strings of islands in the massive body of water that China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan are fighting over for complete or partial control. Strategically, this stretch of the South China Sea is vital, rich with oil, gas, and fish resources.
Recently, the territorial dispute has escalated tensions between China and Vietnam. Relations between the two nations reached an all time low when a Chinese oil rig parked in the area and brought in naval ships. It was a deliberate, symbolic, if not aggressive display. As discussed on this episode, China's military has well surpassed Vietnam's defense capabilities.
Last week, Vietnam's defense minister said his country wants to pursue good relations with both China and the U.S. Gen. Phung Quang Thanh stated in an interview that Vietnam wants a peaceful and prosperous relationship with both superpowers so that its own economy can grow as much as possible.
The plot may work in Vietnam's favor, particularly in terms of its relationship with the U.S. As reported by Bloomberg, Vietnam has a lot to gain if it signs on to the Trans Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal being pushed through by the Obama administration. The TPP would slash tariffs across the board for participating countries. Vietnam's economy could grow by as much as 11 percent over a 10-year period, or roughly $36 billion.
Chapter 4: How Asians View Each Other (pewglobal.org)
"Asia is a sprawling continent with a long, contentious history."
Ask The Vietnamese About War, And They Think China, Not The U.S. (npr.org)
"In one of the many war cemeteries in Lang Son, a city in northern Vietnam, Pham Thi Ky and her family light incense and offer prayers for her brother-in-law, who died 36 years ago in Vietnam's brief but bloody border war with China."
Are China and Vietnam on the Verge of Another War? (rfa.org)
"When China and Vietnam last went to war, both suffered a bloody nose although it was Beijing which fired the first salvo and wanted to teach Hanoi a 'lesson.'"
Vietnam Warns of Coming Economic Bombshell for Mainland Southeast Asia (thediplomat.com)
"Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar are the poorest, least well-run countries within ASEAN."