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International Law

China’s Assertive Encroachments in South China Sea

Prof. Pankaj Jha

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The month of July 2019 witnessed China assertive postures undermining the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling (PCA verdict of July 2016) which dismissed China’s claims of sovereignty on the South China Sea islands. It has forcefully reiterated its illegal ‘sovereign’ jurisdiction on South China Sea and the adjoining areas. On July 19,Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang has asked China to end violations of Vietnamese Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and withdraw its survey vessel Haiyang Dizhi 8 from Vietnam’s waters.  China has carefully undermined the UNCLOS and has sent its survey ship in Vietnamese EEZ. The purpose was to earmark and assert its ‘self-declared rights’ on the waters closer to the other claimants. Earlier, this month China Coast Guard ship Haijing 35111 threatened Vietnamese vessels by maneuvering dangerously. The Vietnamese supply ships were providing logistical support to Japanese-owned oil rig- the Hakuryu-5 which was leased to Russian oil company Rosneft. The location of the incident was 370 km off Vietnam’s southeast coast in exploration Block 06.1. Rosneft, has leased Japanese rig to explore oil and gas in Vanguard Bank. It is also involved in Block 05.3/11, and has been developing the Nam Con Son Pipeline project in Vietnam.

The recent activity of oil and gas exploration undertaken by Rosneft started on May 12, 2019.Addressing Chinese threats, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Dmitry Peskov had earlier stated that “As far as we know, the company has already made a statement that it works exactly in line with the obtained licenses”. A Russia jurist has also asked Vietnam to seek international support to protect its interests and rights in the South China Sea. In response to Kremlin statement, China’s foreign ministry admonished saying “any state, any organization, any company or individual cannot, without obtaining permission from Chinese authorities, carry out exploration activity in the maritime area under China’s sovereignty”. This is complete disregard for international law and norms governing international order at sea.

For China, Vietnam has always been a challenge because of its close ties with major powers such as the US, Russia, Japan and India. The group sail which was undertaken by India, Japan, Philippines and US in early May 2019 further increased the anxiety of China. During the group sail the four countries undertook activities such as underway replenishment, formation manoeuvering, and cross-deck flying. Tensions between China and Vietnam escalated when Haiyang Dizhi 8(Chinese survey ship) conducted a 12-day survey of waters escorted by the three Chinese coastguard vessels as China has tried to intimidate the international community, and the Vietnamese navy to accept its suzerainty in those waters. The incident has been deplored and criticized by the US National Security Adviser Michael Bolton. He said ‘China’s coercive behavior towards its Southeast Asian neighbors was counterproductive and threatened regional peace and stability’. US state department has called China’s recent incursions as “bullying behaviour”. Chairman of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs Eliot L. Engel in a strong statement said, “I stand with Vietnam and our regional partners in condemning this aggression. The international community must continue to uphold the rules-based order and international law. I call on China to immediately withdraw any and all ships from the territorial waters of its neighbors, and to put an end to these illegal bullying tactics”.

Strategic experts have often referred to this strategy of China as the salami slicing approach but the recent encroachment and area access denial activity along with three months’ fisheries ban and using its naval ships to earmarked its self-proclaimed ‘sovereign’ maritime waters is dangerous for the freedom of navigation and the security of the maritime trade. This time China’s salami slicing has gone a step further and it is ‘Hammer and Tongs’ approach where hammer follows the tongs to meet its strategic objectives. The history of developments in South China Sea in the last decade has been dangerous and at times leading to minor skirmishes. This involves the stalking of the US ships in 2009 and China’s use of fishermen militia to meet its dual objectives of patrolling through civilian means and using force to impose its will. In 2011, Chinese patrol boats intruded 120km near the Vietnamese coast and snapped a submerged cable drawn by Binh Minh 02(the survey ship). Further, these assertive maneuvers have led to anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam in the past and also attacks on the Chinese manufacturing units. Earlier in 2019 China has used fishing boats militia to harass US ships in South China Sea.

From Vietnam’s perspective, the recent developments have aggravated tensions because of ASEAN’s inaction and US ambiguity about these islands. In the current context there are three possibilities which need to be undertaken by major dialogue partners such as India, the US, Japan and Korea along with Australia. Firstly, it should strengthen its dialogue with dialogue partners on specific issues of security to a certain extent, defining South China Sea as special case. Secondly, the non-traditional security issues have crippled ASEAN in terms of addressing core security issues and developing a politico –security community. Thirdly, ASEAN nations should recognize status quo related to the islands occupied by the claimants, and work towards unilaterally adopting the Code of Conduct in South China Sea.

The recent draft agreement on Code of Conduct (CoC) is irrelevant as China never takes any international or regional obligation in word and spirit. China, on its part, has enforced de facto sovereignty over Paracel Islands. The basic issue is the resources both energy and mineral resources in South China Sea, and given the fact that Blue economy is gaining traction the crisis might further aggravate. Chinese fishermen militia has been matched with Vietnamese fishing community are vying for the third richest fishing ground in the world. The problem so gets compounded with the inactivity of the multilateral organizations, confusion among the claimant states, and the possibility of China exploring the bilateral solution with countries such as Malaysia and Brunei.

The pertinent question which arises at this juncture is whether the international community and ASEAN would do anything to resolve the crisis or would wait for the Chinese diktats on the subject with occasional assurance of peace and tranquility in the strategic waters. The major players should undertake group sail on a regular basis and also surveillance sorties to create conditions and make China understand that any provocative measures would draw international attention and also global powers. As already countries such as France, UK and Canada have expressed concerns related to the developments in South China Sea. The other issue is whether these activities undertaken by China dilutes the provisions of Article 2(e)- ‘Renunciation of the threat or use of force’ of Treaty of Amity and Cooperation(TAC) which is a necessary prerequisite for engagement with ASEAN. China entered TAC with ASEAN in 2003.  If it is so then the discussion should be started in the ASEAN and its associated organizations. Any dialogue partner which violates the provisions should be removed from the organization.

For Vietnam it is imperative to look for possibilities to protect its interest in the EEZ and not only statements in Non-Aligned Movement but the issue must be raised at UN also. The questions are that whenever it comes to implementing the UNCLOS related to P-5 countries and the provisions thereof, the international community looks the other way. Vietnam also should seek attention of other dialogue partners and brief the envoys of the dialogue partners on this. Countries like India, Japan, the US and Australia would have to activate Quad to take   proactive and responsible approach. Otherwise not only freedom of navigation but also over flight would be hampered in a ‘hammer and tongs’ way. China must also not forget that coaxing and coercive maneuvers have at times forced smaller countries to engage and invite big players and lease those bases.

Pankaj Jha is faculty with Jindal School of International Affairs, O P Jindal Global University, Sonepat. He can be reached at pankajstrategic[at]gmail.com

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International Law

Transition of Balance of Power from Unipolar to Multipolar World Order

Fatima Arif

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The international system may be described as a complex system of social, scientific, political, military and technological systems. This dynamic structure is very difficult to evaluate and it is even more difficult to predict its future.

The distribution of power potential in the international system defines the number of major powers and thus the international system’s polarity. The system would be multi-polar if the great powers are more than two; if they are two it would be bipolar and systems with only one great power are called unipolar.

It can be expected in the future multipolar world that the global economy does not settle with a couple of significant nations but rather with multiple nations of varying capabilities. In the limited arena of affairs pertaining to their country, each state with its particular notable qualities will have decisive say. Beyond the US, Japan, China, the EU, and India are capable of economic influence due to their advancements in technology, increasing economy, and large population base. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, African Union countries and Brazil will have an impact, owing to their large energy reserves. Russia should have preferences for both. Because of their geostrategic location such as Pakistan, Central Asia, Ukraine and Turkey, a few nations will have some regional influence because these nations are situated on the energy routes from which energy resources would be on route to other parts of the world.

United States and the Changing World Order

There is a broad bipartisan consensus within US political leadership that the country must remain a global leader / world leading power. This assumption in its re-eminence also comes with the fundamental underpinnings that the United States will lead the world to freedom and liberty. Its third term is resolve to contain China.

It’s troubling to what extent the US continues to pursue China’s containment. The’ democracy alliance’ or the’ pivot to Asia’ are examples of US designs. China too, because of its part, diverted from the usual cautious approach and its proclaimed strategy of’ peaceful progression’ to an unambiguous stance on the South China Sea. Right now, however, the condition does not appear to come to a head-on collision anytime far. Yet the contest could bring a serious and dangerous situation to the fore. The US is not going to communicate directly with its forces on the field. There is a lot of resistance for another war at home. This doesn’t mean the US is ineffective. What we have is a hegemon with a diminishing power and a reluctance to give up his position of leadership. At the other hand, there is no other country capable of replacing it while they frequently seek to question its authority. Chinese occasional deviation from caution, and reluctance on the part of the US to yield, build a dangerous situation.

Decline of the Unipolar System

The U.S. has been the only hegemony since the end of the Cold War, but since the economic crisis of 2008 its world hegemony has been undermined. The gap in power between China and the US is diminishing. In 2011, China’s GDP contributed for around half of the US GDP. If China’s GDP continues to rise at 8.5 per cent and US GDP increases at less than 3.8 per cent, the current gap between the two forces will level out in the decade to come. Meanwhile, the economic gap between these two nations and the other major powers will continue to expand over the next ten years. In the next five years, only the US and China will spend more than $100 billion annually on defense, growing the difference in power between them and the others. Accordingly, the international structure would not be unipolar.

International Players That Can Change the International World Order In 21st Century (Analytical Approach)

Bipolar global structure collapsed by the end of the Cold War. The United States has become the sole superpower and as expressed in the new industrial order of defense, the international structure has become unipolar. The major powers of the global community are China, Russia, Japan and the E.U. Whether the international system can turn into a bipolar or multipolar system depends on developments in many countries and regions in technological, political, economic, and military terms. China, Russia, Japan, the EU and India have the power to change their international structure. In the last twenty-five years, China’s capacities have steadily increased in magnitudes that significantly restructure the international order. Economic prosperity for China goes hand in hand with the advancement of science and technology. It is developing expensive weapons systems that are increasingly capable compared to developed countries ‘ most advanced weapons systems. Another important determinant of the future of the international community is the relative dominance of the U.S. in science, technical, economic and military capacities compared to other major powers.

Conclusion

The position of emerging states, which influence the range and change of the international system, is very difficult to comprehend. The general outlines of what is happening with this phenomenon are becoming more evident, as transition happens under intense internal dynamic conditions and not from external factors. There is a group of candidates that can be considered growing powers, and there are rapid bursts in this phase of transition, but it is longer than expected. Under conditions of changing institutionalization a central component of these changes occurs. Yet there is also a gap in the assumptions regarding the principles of collaboration and conflict. National interests and principles are certainly the most significant in the changing world order, and these can also lead to deeply complex and frustrated bargaining situations that need to be resolved by enhanced collaboration at the state level. Joined societies dissolve, along with the old beliefs. According to different ideas of world system, that countries are not less divided, and they can constantly struggle and communicate with each other at the same time. Therefore, the future multi-polar system would be no different from the other multi-polar moments that history has seen, resulting in more chaos and unpredictability than in the current unipolar world. Nevertheless, multi-polarity does not only carry the risks involved in researching balance of power among great powers for the first time in history.

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International Law

The UN reforms are required to make it functional

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Today, the world we live in has become more unpredictable, insecure, and exposed to more vulnerability. Geopolitics is changing rapidly, new problems are often emerging, while old issues remained unresolved. Humankind is under threats and challenges; some of them might be natural disasters, like Earthquakes, Floods, Fires, Valconos, Pandemic, etc. But most of the difficulties and problems are man-made, creation of some powerful countries, the result of over-ambitions, greed, expansionism, biases and jealousy. Big and more muscular countries are keeping eyes on the natural resources of small and weaker nations, etc.

In 1945, the United Nations was established to replace the League of Nations. Because the League of Nations was unable to solve most of the problems faced by the world, unable to resolve conflicts and wars, unable to protect human lives, unable to maintain justice and equality, the failure of achieving objects, the League of Nations was dissolved, and UN was established.

The UN was established with the following four objectives:

Maintaining worldwide peace and security

Developing relations among nations

Fostering cooperation between nations in order to solve economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian international problems

Providing a forum for bringing countries together to meet the UN’s purposes and goals

UN Charter was written by very professionals and experts in their own fields. The Charter is comprehensive and based on many considerations, satisfying almost the needs of nearly everyone at that time. Considering the disaster of the Second World war, the Charter was considered a most appropriate document to address practically all concerns.

The UN has been functioning since 1945 and ready to celebrate its 75th anniversary soon. At this moment, if we look at the performance of the UN, there are many things one can mention as achievements or in the UN’s credit. No doubt, in the early days of the Establishment of the UN, the objectives achieved were rated quite well. However, over time, the UN was politicized, and some of the countries, who were a major donor to UN contribution, were using the UN and its structures to achieve their political objectives. They were misusing the UN platform to coerce some other nations or using UN umbrella to achieve political of economic goals by harming other nations. On the other hand, geopolitics became so complicated and complex that the existing structure of the UN is unable to meet the challenges of the modern world.

Just, for example, Afghan is under war for the last four decades, people are being killed in routine matters, foreign intervention caused the loss of precious lives and economic disaster to people of Afghanistan. Iraq war, Libya War, Syria war, Yemen War, the situation in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Venezuela, Ukraine, somewhat more complicated conflict among the U.S., Iran, Israel, and the Persian Gulf, U.S.-North Korea tussle, and Kashmir, all are remained unresolved under the current structure of the UN.

Should we remain silent spectators and keep the status quo, and let the humankind suffer more? Should we justify ourselves as helpless and let the more powerful kills more human beings? Should we remain in isolation and keep our self busy with our own interests? Should we compromise with our conscious? Should we ignore our inner voice? Should we prove ourselves as innocent and not responsible such crimes committed by someone else?

Think and thing smartly, and consider yourself in the same situation and a victim, what we should be expecting from other nations, the international community, and the UN. We must do the same thing to meet the expectations of the victims.

The UN is unable to achieve its objectives with the current structure; the reforms are inevitable. We must strengthen the UN and transform the current dysfunctional UN to a more effective UN, which should satisfy the core issues of all nations. Africa is a major continent, and facing many challenges, but have no say in the UN; there is no single country from Africa in the Security Council of the UN as a permanent member having veto power. The Muslim world, having an estimated population of two billion, every fourth person in this world is a Muslim, there are 57 independent sovereign countries as member f the UN,m but no voice in the UN, no permanent member of UNSC, no veto power, who will protect their rights and who will look after their interests. Should they remain at the mercy of the current five permanent members of the UNSC?

Some countries are rebellious to the UN; some states are defaulter of the UN, and not implementing the resolutions passed by UNSC. Some countries have bypassed the UN and imposed war or sanctions on other nations. They must be held responsible for their acts, the UN should kick such countries out of the UN, and their membership may be suspended or cancelled.

It is time to introduce, comprehensive reforms in the UN, to address all issues faced by today’s modern, complex and rather complicated world. An appropriate representation of all nations, groups, ethnicity or religion should be ensured. The UN has a heavy responsibility, deserve more budgets, more powers and needed to be strengthened further.

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International Law

Coronavirus Shaping The Contours Of The Modern World

Nageen Ashraf

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Globalization vs. Protectionism:

Globalization means the movement of ideas, products, technology, and people across borders and different cultures. It is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. It has social, cultural, economic, political and legal aspects. Globalization has made the world a global village and talks about co-operation and interdependence. Protectionism, on the other hand, is the restriction of movement of goods and products across borders to protect the national industries and economy. The major goal of protectionism is to boost up national economy, but protectionist measures can also be applied for security purposes. So, we can say that protectionists are basically anti-globalists and prefer domestic strength as compared to foreign co-operation.

Protectionism and Covid-19

Globalization has made the world so interdependent and interconnected that any economic or political change in one state creates a domino effect and influence many other states. For the pandemic, most states were initially blaming China, but as it slowly healed and the pandemic caused more devastating impacts in the western states, more fingers are pointing towards globalization. Multiple narratives are building regarding globalization where protectionists finally got a chance to prove how right they were all along.

Globalization not only played a vital role in the spread of this epidemic, it also made the economic crisis go global by affecting the supply chains. An epidemic that affected a single city in Dec, 2019, grew to become a pandemic affecting almost every state in the world through movement of people and goods. States that adopted strict measures and restricted the movement of people, have relatively less cases of corona virus as compared to other states. The worst impacts of corona virus so far can be seen in USA where New York City was initially the epicenter.

New York City is definitely one of the most crowded cities in the world where daily, thousands of people move in and out for various purposes. This could be one of the reasons of such devastating impacts of corona in NYC because the free circulation of people and goods allowed the virus to spread exponentially. On the other hand, if we talk about African continent, where most states are under developed, and the movement of people in and out of the continent is very less as compared to Europe and Americas, reported cases of corona virus are very low. As of Sep 11, 2020, in the whole continent, the highest number of corona cases is in South Africa, with a count of642k as compared to USA’s count of 6.49m. This provides evidence that movement of people played a vital role in the spread of this virus and movement of people has increased a lot since the rise of globalization.

Critiques of globalization also argue that globalization is to be blamed for an epidemic that spread across borders and will soon plunge the whole world into recession. Interdependence because of globalization has made the world more vulnerable to such situations. For instance, China is one of the biggest markets in the world that exports antibiotics and telecommunications and remains an important part of most of the global supply chains. Half of the world’s surgical masks were made by China, even before pandemic. So, when the pandemic struck Wuhan, China, the supplies from China to the rest of the world affected many states that were dependent on China, and they ran out of important pharmaceutical inputs. Even the developed states like France ran out of medical masks and had to suffer because of lack of important medical equipment. This reveals the cost of such deeply interconnected global supply chains that create a domino effect.

Is Globalization ending?

Globalization has made the world a global village and undoubtedly facilitated the free movement of people, goods, ideas, cultures, information, and technology across borders. But on the other hand, it has also played a major role in the spread of diseases and has made states vulnerable to unexpected shocks. Globalists also believe that the medical or health consequences of corona would prove less destructive if states work together instead of working separately for the vaccine, as a competition. Adopting the nationalist or isolationist approach during the pandemic would crash the international economy and further increase the tensions. As the protectionists suggest, if we’d continue to protect only our national economies and keep on putting barriers on international trade, the national recession would soon turn into a global depression, as happened in 1930’s.Timely economic recovery is only possible through global cooperation.

 I think that the threat of Covid-19 has created an extraordinary situation. Originating from Asia, and then causing millions of deaths all around the globe, the blame on globalization is legitimate. Most of the states in the world rely on their tourism revenue that has been affected badly due to corona virus. For instance, Saudi Authorities decided to cancel Hajj because of growing pandemic, and the impact on KSA’s economy would be dramatic. Similarly, Japan is one of the states that depend highly on tourism revenue from Chinese tourists and travel restrictions have caused severe losses. We have also seen how the supply chains are affected just because one of the major producers (China) was badly hit by the virus. Globalization seems to have conquered the world so there is no way that it can be avoided completely. However, after the pandemic, there might be a little change in the world order regarding high interdependency. States that were mostly dependent on China for their important supplies might try to produce the supplies on their own and prioritize their domestic industries over foreign industries because of the consequences they had to bear during the pandemic. Similarly, travel bans will surely be removed but people might hesitate to cross borders and move freely because there will be awareness regarding the risks related to free movement. So, I think that the pandemic has highlighted some backlashes in globalization, but it doesn’t mean that globalization has failed. We can say that it is fragile, despite or even because of its benefits.

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