Japan Offers Maritime Security Aid to Vietnam
Tensions continue to rise in the East as Japan has promised Vietnam ships and equipment to strengthen its forces in the South China Sea. Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines are currently locked in a bitter dispute with China over what they view as Chinese over-aggressiveness in the region.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that it will supply Vietnam with used vessels as well as a donation of $1.7 billion. While not mentioning China by name, Abe cited stability-threatening, large-scale land reclamation projects and the building of outposts as the primary motivators for the donations.
The number of ships Japan will provide wasn’t announced, but last year it promised six used ships to Vietnam. Two of the vessels have been delivered, and Vietnam expects to take delivery of the remaining four before 2016.
China conducted several reclamation projects in the South China Sea earlier this year, and in early August Japan released 14 photos pinpointing 16 offshore platforms located in disputed territories in the East China Sea.
Beijing has downplayed the concerns of its littoral neighbors, asserting that the majority of the new facilities will be used for drilling, processing and storing natural gases, but Japan contends the structures can easily be fashioned with air defense radar systems and heliports.
China announced that it had ceased its offshore reclamation projects in the South China Sea shortly after Japan released the photos of the offshore platforms. However, China’s statements did not quell regional unease as many believed that Beijing only halted its projects because it had completed construction of the platforms.
China currently claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.