International pressure forces China to stop oil drilling in South China Sea

July 21, 2014

In the face of fierce criticism from the international community, China perhaps had no choice but to suspend its attempt to “change the status quo by force” when it ended its operations to drill for oil near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

The operations were originally scheduled to continue through mid-August but ended earlier because “work proceeded smoothly,” according to China’s explanation. Undoubtedly, however, China bowed to the international pressures and curtailed the operations.

In early May, China unilaterally started drilling for oil in a sea zone also claimed by Vietnam, which strongly urged it to halt its operations. Chinese and Vietnamese vessels rammed into one another repeatedly, sinking a Vietnamese boat in one instance and escalating the tension to a dangerous level.

Large-scale anti-China demonstrations erupted in Vietnam one after another, while its government waged an international campaign denouncing China for its unjustness. Perhaps China had not expected that Vietnam—increasingly becoming economically dependent on China—would put up such fierce resistance.

Exposing a greater miscalculation by China was the fact that Japan, the United States and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations swiftly rallied behind Vietnam to strengthen their cooperation to counter China.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe criticized China for its self-righteousness at international conferences and on other occasions by repeatedly underscoring the importance of the rule of law in light of China’s territorial claims, which have no grounds in international law. His assertions were widely accepted in the international community.

Copyright, The Japan News, 2014.