Chinese academic Lin Qi says following the arbitral tribunal ruling in 2016, which, inter alia, said that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’”, the Philippines has gone on to stake a firmer claim in the South China Sea such as by undertaking upgrading works on certain islands it inhabits and proposing draft amendments to the “national territory” article of its constitution. However, in many of its endeavours, it relies on the US and will continue to work closely with them amid rising tensions in the region.
In recent years, Malaysia seems to have moved away from its role as a “low-profile pragmatist” in the South China Sea dispute as it seeks to assert its rights over oil and gas exploration in the disputed waters, and as its threat perceptions of China increase. It looks set to continue butting heads with China amid the ongoing global pandemic and increasing US-China competition in the region.
Vietnam stands to benefit from MNCs’ efforts to diversify their production base beyond China. How much it will actually benefit, however, depends on how fast it can roll out measures to further improve its infrastructure and business environment.
This week, the USS Theodore Roosevelt will become the second US aircraft carrier to visit Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War. While it is in Vietnam's interest to maintain a stable relationship with China due to strong economic ties, on matters of strategic interest, Vietnam finds no other power more compatible to work with than the US, to create a counterbalance against China.
Vietnam is a rising star amongst Southeast Asian economies. Its GDP totalled US$238.5 billion in 2018 and its economy grew more than 7%, the fastest it has grown since the 2008 global financial crisis. Many said Vietnam is benefiting from the China-US trade war and stands to gain from Chinese investments and the BRI. But what is the reality? Researcher Yu Hong was in Vietnam to find out.