Vietnam Starts Dredging in South China Sea

2019 ias preliminary exam test series

Vietnam has begun dredging work on a disputed reef in the South China Sea. Vietnam has emerged as China’s main rival in the South China Sea, actively asserting sovereignty over both the Paracel and the Spratly groupings in their entirety and undergoing its own naval modernisation.

Taiwan also claims both, but its position is historically aligned with Beijing.

Activity visible on Ladd Reef in the Spratly Islands could anger Hanoi’s main South China Sea rival, Beijing, which claims sovereignty over the group and most of the resource-rich sea.

Ladd Reef, on the southwestern fringe of the Spratlys, is completely submerged at high tide but has a lighthouse and an outpost housing a small contingent of Vietnamese soldiers. The reef is also claimed by Taiwan.

Background:

China occupied its first Spratlys possessions after a sea battle against Vietnam’s then-weak navy in 1988. Vietnam said 64 soldiers were killed as they tried to protect a flag on South Johnson reef – an incident still acutely felt in Hanoi.

Vietnam has emerged as China’s main rival in the South China Sea, actively asserting sovereignty over both the Paracel and the Spratly groupings in their entirety and undergoing its own naval modernisation.

China began dredging and land filling earlier this year at North Island, about 12 km (7 miles) north of Woody Island, where it has a large military base and this year stationed surface-to-air missiles.

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