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NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL Monterey, California

THESISVIETNAM AND THE SPRATLY ISLANDS DISPUTE SINCE 1992 by Tong Hum Kang June 2000 Thesis Co-Advisors: Denny Roy Lyman Miller

Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.

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Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 1 hour per response, including the time for reviewing instruction, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Washington headquarters Services, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, 1215 Jefferson Davis Highway, Suite 1204, Arlington, VA 22202-4302, and to the Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project (0704-0188) Washington DC 20503. 1. AGENCY USE ONLY (Leave blank) 2. REPORT DATE REPORT TYPE AND DATES COVERED June 2000 Master's Thesis 4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE: Vietnam and the Spratly Islands Dispute Since 1992 6. AUTHOR(S) Tong Hum Kang 7. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION NAME(S) AND ADDRESS(ES) Naval Postgraduate School Monterey, CA 93943-5000 SPONSORING / MONITORING AGENCY NAME(S) AND ADDRESS(ES) N/A 5. FUNDING NUMBERS

8.PERFORMING ORGANIZATION REPORT NUMBER 10. SPONSORING / MONITORING AGENCY REPORT NUMBER

11. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES The views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Governautical milesent. 12a. DISTRD3UTION / AVAILABILITY STATEMENT 12b. DISTRD3UTION CODE Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited. 13. ABSTRACT (maximum 200 words) The sovereignty dispute over the Spratlys Islands and jurisdiction in the South China Sea remains an important issue in AsiaPacific security today. The race to establish the validity of claims has increased diplomatic discord and resulted in armed conflict. Hanoi's behavior in the Spratlys has implications for its relations with Vietnam's neighbors and for regional arrangements generally. This thesis examines Vietnam's approach to the Spratlys dispute since 1992. It concludes that: Hanoi's wooing of ASEAN has helped restrain China and the other claimants in the dispute; that Hanoi's rapprochement with Beijing has helped to limit China from seizing areas in the Spratlys occupied by Vietnam; that Hanoi's diplomacy has slowed Chinese expansionism in the Spratlys, while Hanoi's military build-up since 1992 has not; and Hanoi's appeal to UNCLOS has not helped resolve the dispute on its terms. To resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner, Hanoi must collaborate with the ASEAN states, Taiwan, and the larger Asia-Pacific community to prevent Beijing from dominating the Spratlys and the South China Sea. 14. SUBJECT TERMS Vietnam, Spratly Islands, South China Sea, Chinese Hegemony, ASEAN, International Law, UNCLOS, Southeast Asian Regional Security 15. NUMBER OF PAGES

10216. PRICE CODE 20. LIMITATION OF ABSTRACT UL

17. SECURITY CLASSIFICATION OF REPORT UnclassifiedNSN 7540-01-280-5500

18. SECURITY CLASSIFICATION OF THIS PAGE Unclassified

INSECURITY CLASSD7ICATION OF ABSTRACT Unclassified

Standard Form 298 (Rev. 2-89) Prescribed by ANSI Std. 239-18

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Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited

VIETNAM AND THE SPRATLY ISLANDS DISPUTE SINCE 1992

Tong Hum Kang Ministry of Defense, Malaysia B.Soc.Sc. (Hons), University of Science, Malaysia, 1990 Dip. in Public Management, National Institute of Public Administration, Malaysia, 1992

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INTERNATIONAL RESOURCE PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT

from the

NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL June 2000 Author: bng Hum Kang Approved by: s^g- Denny Roy, Thes^ Co-Advisor

tilfrpAA^Mlfc^)Lyman Miller, Thesis Co-Advisor

Reuben T. Harris, Chairman Department of Systems Management

in

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IV

ABSTRACTThe sovereignty dispute over the Spratlys Islands and jurisdiction in the South China Sea remains an important issue in Asia-Pacific security today. The race to establish the validity of claims has increased diplomatic discord and resulted in for armed its conflict. Hanoi's behavior in the and Spratlys has

implications

relations

with Vietnam's

neighbors

for regional

arrangements generally.

This thesis examines Vietnam's approach to the Spratlys

dispute since 1992. It concludes that: Hanoi's wooing of ASEAN has helped restrain China and the other claimants in the dispute; that Hanoi's rapprochement with Beijing has helped to limit China from seizing areas in the Spratlys occupied by Vietnam; that Hanoi's diplomacy has slowed Chinese expansionism in the Spratlys, while Hanoi's military build-up since 1992 has not; and Hanoi's appeal to UNCLOS has not helped resolve the dispute on its terms. To resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner, Hanoi must collaborate with the ASEAN states, Taiwan, and the larger Asia-Pacific community to prevent Beijing from dominating the Spratlys and the South China Sea.

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VI

TABLE OF CONTENTSI. INTRODUCTION A. OVERVIEW B. IMPORTANCE OF STUDY C. AIM OF THESIS D. SCOPE OF STUDY E. STRUCTURE OF THESIS F. METHOD OF ANALYSIS H. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND A. THE OVERLAPPING CLAIMS TO THE SPRATLYS ISLANDS B. THE VIETNAMESE CLAIM C. FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DISPUTE 1. Choke-point for Vietnam D. DISPUTE SETTLEMENTS OFFERED BY ASEAN AND THE UNITED NATIONS HI. THE VIETNAMESE FOREIGN POLICY EVOLUTION SINCE 1992 AND POLICY ON THE SPRATLYS DISPUTE A. INTRODUCTION B. VIETNAM'S FOREIGN POLICY 1. New Orientations in Vietnam's Foreign Policy 2. The International Context 3. The Domestic Context 4. Vietnam's Economic Objectives in the Spratlys C. THE POLICY ON THE SPRATLYS DISPUTE D. THE U.S. AND JAPAN'S INTEREST IN THE SPRATLYS DISPUTE TV. VIETNAM'S STRATEGY TO END THE SPRATLYS DISPUTE A. VIETNAM AND ASEAN 1. The Role of ASEAN as Mediator B. VIETNAM AND CHINA 1. Vietnam Rapprochement with China 2. Vietnam and China Relationship in the Post-Deng Xiao-ping Era C. THE VIETNAMESE MILITARY BUILD-UP D. VIETNAM'S OCEAN POLICY THROUGH UNCLOS V. CONCLUSION A. WILL THE WOOING OF ASEAN HELP VIETNAM? B. WILL RAPPROCHEMENT AND DIPLOMACY PREVENT CHINA'S ADVANCES IN THE SPRATLYS AND THE SOUTH CHINA SEA? vii 1 1 5 6 6 7 7 9 9 15 21 23 26

29 29 29 32 33 35 36 40 42 45 45 47 51 59 60 63 67 73 74 75

C. WILL VIETNAMS MILITARY BUILD-UP PREVENT CHINAS ADVANCES IN THE SPRATLYS AND THE SOUTH CHINA SEA D. WILL VIETNAMS APPEAL TO UNCLOS PROVIDE A SOLUTION TO THE DISPUTE? E. A PEACEFUL SOLUTION TO THE DISPUTE BIBLIOGRAPHY INITIAL DISTRIBUTION LIST

76 78 79 81 87

vm

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1. The Spratly Islands in the South China Sea Figure 2. Occupation of the Spratly Islands Figure 3. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam Figure 4. Vietnam Petroleum Concession Block Map, Western South China Sea

2 10 25 39

IX

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LIST OF TABLES

Table 1. Islands Occupation and Names of the Islands Table 2. Oil and Gas in the South China Sea Region Table 3. The Military Strength of the Main Actors

14 37 63

XI

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Xll

ACKNOWLEDGMENTSI would like to thank my wonderful wife, Sow Kin and my two children, Yong Qian and Qian Rou for their moral support and patience. My thanks and gratitude goes to my thesis co-advisors, Professor Denny Roy and Professor Lyman Miller, for their guidance and encouragement throughout this undertaking. Many thanks also to Professor Carlyle A. Thayer of Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies for his guidance. In addition, I wish to thank my editor, Jhoie Pasadilla, for her timely help.

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I.A. OVERVIEW

INTRODUCTION

The South China Sea is an area of 648,000 square miles dotted with hundreds of reefs, islets, rocks, and shoals, all of which are the subject of conflicting territorial claims.1 As with many islands distant from the mainland, those are claimed by different powers, the Spratly Islands has been the subject of recurrent and concurrent assertion of ownership by various countries, often without the knowledge of other existing claims.2 The Spratly Islands consist of hundreds of islets, coral reefs, atolls, cays, rocks, sand banks, shoals, and sea mounts spread out over seventy thousand square miles of ocean.3 They are located 400 miles east of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Vietnam) and 800 miles south of China's Hainan Island, 160 miles north of Borneo, and are almost dead center of the South China Sea. (See Figure 1.) Some of islets are hardly visible at high tide. It has become a disputable concern among six Asian countries over their sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction.

The South China Sea is defined by the International Hydrographie Bureau as the body of water stretching in a Southwest to Northeast direction, whose southern border is 3 degrees South latitude between South Sumatra and Kalimantan (Karimata Straits), and whose northern border is the Strait of Taiwan from the northern tip of Taiwan to the Fukien coast of China. It is known as Eastern Sea to the Vietnamese. "Oil-prospective Spratlys still a flashpoint," Oil & Gas Journal, vol.97, no. 43, 25 October 1999, pp. 35-36. The Spratly Islands are called Nansha by the Chinese and Truong Sa by the Vietn