Dieu Cam, a reader, comments on China’s illegal placement of oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 in Vietnam’s waters since May 1. Beijing has deployed a large number of ships and aircraft to guard the unlawful rig despite demands from Vietnam that it withdraw the platform from Vietnamese waters. The following article was written in Vietnamese and has been translated into English.
The fact that China has placed oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 in the Vietnamese exclusive economic zone for exploratory drilling operations on the Vietnamese continental shelf has become a major issue, causing waves of strong responses not only from Vietnam but also from across the globe.
It is likely that Chinese citizens are also concerned about the issue. Let’s imagine what ordinary Chinese people may be thinking about it:
Since Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China [who is also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China] took office, Chinese people often hear him talk about the “Chinese dream” that peaceful development is the best strategic option for China.
It is not clear what his dream entails, but the dream of an ordinary person is very simple: peace at home and abroad so that one can feel secure to do business to make a living.
Regarding what is called “strategic chance,” something often mentioned by Chinese leaders, we ordinary people can vaguely understand that there are now many advantageous conditions for a “peaceful rise” and China should “bide its time” to meet its long-term goal of developing into one of the leading countries in the world.
But it is understandable that the leaders have acted against their word, causing trouble in the waters of another country, thus risking China’s world status.
In addition, since Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang began to run national affairs, many internal issues have needed to be settled, such as the economic slowdown, the “deep reform” in its early stages, the discontent among people regarding the widening income gap, serious environmental pollution, anti-corruption campaigns, and the bombings and stabbing sprees that have not only taken place in Xinjiang but also in Tiananmen…
It is understandable why Chinese leaders have not centered their efforts on settling practical internal issues, but they have caused trouble outside of their country. Or perhaps those in charge wish to create a “greater issue” so that ordinary Chinese citizens forget about the difficulties of daily life?
In addition, you Chinese leaders have affirmed many times that China does not pursue a dream of expansionism and hegemony. Chinese people were once oppressed themselves, so they can clearly understand how shameful it is.
A Chinese proverb says, “Don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you,” which means a person who does not wish to be suppressed should not suppress others.
However, the drilling rig issue has destroyed all efforts that have been made to persuade others that China doesn’t wish to declare itself the king of Asia.
Whether we like it or not, we have to live along with other nations. And when living with others, we must abide by common laws. What would the world be like if every nation applied its own law of the jungle?
First of all, our act has worried our neighboring countries. We ordinary Chinese people were very happy when Chinese leaders convened a neighborly diplomatic conference in which you declared your point of view: being friendly with neighbors, living in security alongside neighbors, and becoming prosperous along with neighbors.
However, we Chinese have caused trouble and tension and ruined the cooperative relations with neighbor after neighbor.
And in response to our wrongful and perverse acts related to the rig, ASEAN countries had to gather to express their worry about insecurities in the region and the possibility that each neighboring country would in turn fall victim to us someday.
In addition, our “excessive decisive attitude” has triggered a new wave of costly arms race in the region.
We ordinary Chinese people do not understand why China often picks a quarrel with Vietnam, which, like China, pursues the goal of building socialism, and with which China has offered to build a good neighborhood, good friendship, good partnership, and good rapport.
Some Chinese officials consider Vietnam to be an ingrate and allege that Vietnam pursues its scams…
However, it is clear that over the past thousands of years, Vietnam has never invaded China, while many Chinese dynasties have invaded Vietnam.
More recently, on the one hand China helped Vietnam fight invaders but on the other, it used Vietnam’s problems as a means for exchange between China and other powerful countries.
China even took advantage of Vietnam when it was busy with the resistance war, using force to attack and occupy Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, which China calls Xisha Islands.
China caused a war with Vietnam but haughtily said, “China taught Vietnam a lesson,” and even occupied a group of islands belonging to Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago that it calls Nansha Islands.
In the East Vietnam Sea, Vietnam has never oppressed China, while we drew the nine-dash line covering most of the sea and have made numerous troubles for them. We should wonder: “How would we feel if a country did the same to us?”
China should see reason and listen to reason, and think about the gain and the loss. We shouldn’t place ourselves in a situation in which we will lose a large cause over small issues.
We ordinary Chinese citizens hope you leaders rethink your actions before it’s too late.
We do not expect all Chinese people to think the same way, but we are sure that every Chinese person with good sense and a solid conscience will contemplate the above issues for the greater good of China and its people.