Carl Thayer - Emeritus Professor of the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy
Q: What do you think of China using products to promote its false nine-dash line claim to the East Sea?
A: China has three warfares and it includes psychological and political. Even in Australia we are facing it every time, a fake website. Chinese-Australians support China, you know, and who is doing this, and hacking and other devices. So psychological warfare is important in a battle without fighting. So every country must identify, the security authorities need to monitor it. It's not just a threat to Vietnam, but wider, and even in Australia. In an era of diplomacy it’s up to, I think, because technology has overtaken our board, the new normal is to use that. What it means is that you have to be extra vigilant. You have to use security and people have to monitor, identify these sites, counteract them, or close them down, and expose them. It's a never ending struggle.
Q: Why is China attempting to claim most of the East Sea?
A: They've convinced themselves that those are Chinese resources that are being stolen by other countries. They've reinvented history: they were the first to discover this area. And also it's to get the United States out. Not completely it can still trade, but China wants to be the emerging power in Asia, not Asia Indo-Pacific but in Asia. The South China Sea is at the center of it. For strategic reasons, for oil and gas, for fisheries, China has convinced itself these are resources that other countries are stealing and they belong to China. So why are they doing it? Because it's a way of forcing out those powers that opposed China's rise and isolate Japan. To me it's a broad strategic game to reassert what they feel is its own preeminence, pre-colonial.
Q: What measures should Vietnam take to defeat China’s claim?
A: It's a never ending struggle. It's a new frontier, the cyber one. In our strategic partnership with Vietnam and elsewhere cyber is now put in one of the areas of cooperation. I think in the coming year if Vietnam is not satisfied with how the negotiations go on a code of conduct, Vietnam either could say we won't sign an agreement if our national interests are undermined. We won't do it. And then finally, in a sense, the arbitration would be like the Philippines. I think that Vietnam would win it because you say what are our entitlements here, what China is doing to us. And you have a good record of trying to communicate, 40 communications, and the recent thing to establish a record. You should have a reserve team of law specialists constantly updating and preparing to serve and let China know that it is a way of pressure. And then who knows, when the time is right maybe with the outside powers all agreed to back Vietnam in submitting it. The current situation has just gone down a bit. ...But if it continues, if next year China comes back in again, Vietnam will have to seriously think about it.