Vietnam 'Upsets' Chinese Public


A Chinese analyst said Monday that Vietnam's actions in the South China Sea had upset the Chinese people.
According to an online survey conducted Monday by the Global Poll Center under the Global Times, nearly 86 percent of more than 13,000 respondents cited negative feelings toward Vietnam concerning the South China Sea.

Zhuang Guotu, director of Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, told the Global Times that the issue is driving a wedge between people in China and Vietnam.

However, Chinese people need to show restraint, since maintaining good relations with neighbors is in China's interest, he said, adding that Vietnam needs to actively ease tensions and respect the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

Vietnam and China have held separate live-fire military exercises in the area after Hanoi accused Chinese ships of ramming one oil survey ship.

Monday, Singapore called on China to clarify its territorial claims in the South China Sea, saying Beijing's "ambiguity" was causing international concern.

In a statement, Singapore's foreign ministry said, "We think it is in China's own interests to clarify its claims in the South China Sea with more precision as the current ambiguity as to their extent has caused serious concerns in the international maritime community," AFP reported Monday.

It added that Singapore does not have various territorial claims in the South China Sea, but "as a major trading nation, it has a critical interest in anything affecting freedom of navigation in all international sea lanes, including those in the area."

Zhuang said that Singapore's declaration showed that it sided with the US on the issue, aiming to guarantee its freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. As an external force bearing on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the US aims to balance China's influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Singapore hopes to represent ASEAN and wants China to recognize it as a regional leader. These tensions brought an opportunity for Singapore to achieve this purpose, added Zhuang.

Singapore's statement came after a series of anti-China protests in Vietnam and live-fire drills by the Vietnamese navy last week. 
However, China has made it clear that it has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and Xisha Islands and their adjacent waters in the South China Sea.

Singapore realizes that China's good relationships with other ASEAN nations will negatively impact Singapore's standing, and so it will not stop others from countering China's influence, Zhuang told the Global Times. 

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