Vigilant over China's new plots in the East Sea
China understands that the United States, Japan and other major powers know about its plots in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea.
The term “sovereignty” could be understood in two main ways : (1) being recognized by the international community and in conformity with international conventions on sovereignty and (2) based on the state's ability to protect national sovereignty, particularly ensuring defense and security; protection of people's rights to exploit natural resources and live on the place where their ancestors lived, whether it is land, sea or islands.
When the two demands are incompatible, ie the ability to ensure national security disproportionate to the rights recognized by international conventions, then sovereignty disputes can break out.
Thus, national sovereignty is not an absolute, eternal concept. With the inherent imbalance of economic and military power among countries, the economic, political and military relations between different countries that share the same strategic interests, which are consistent with international conventions and law, would create formal or informal alliances. For instance, the United States promoted the formation of the ASEAN bloc during the Cold War.
The strength of a bloc or alliance can create a powerful deterrence to the compression or invasion of any powerful nation against a small country, which belongs to an alliance. Once the alliance weakens, the balance of the international and regional order is changed, due to the appearance of the empty space of power. However, whether the change in the regional order will become a trend or not, is largely depends on the justice of such processes, or whether it is suitable with standards of international order and recognized by most countries around the world.
The years 2008 - 2010 witnessed a global crisis, starting from the United States and then spreading to countries in Western Europe. That leads to two consequences:
Firstly, the United States, due to mounting debt pressure after the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the economic crisis, has weakened a lot about the possibility of deploying hard power to maintain international order in the strategic waters.
Secondly, the weakening of the US economy after the crisis and the rise of China have changed the flow of trade, international capital in the way of increasing the dependence of the periphery countries on economic power and soft power of China.
China’s economic and trade expansion in several countries in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America reflects this trend. In other words, the existing order has weakened, along with it the ability to protect the sovereignty of the member states of alliances, such as Japan - the US or cooperation blocs, such as ASEAN, is challenged.
In this context, China faces two choices: the first is in collaboration with the world powers, led by the US, to maintain regional order; consolidate stability and prosperous development based on collaboration and global trade. The second is to replace the US, forming a new world order and establishing a new military coalition headed by China, aimed at forcing the conformation of the new order .
In fact, the Chinese have chosen the second path as its long-term goal. This process begins with the violation of the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS) in the East Sea, to gradually transform it into its own waters.
The key point here is there are very clear differences between the international maritime route and the maritime route in the territory of China. When political or interest conflicts arise, China can use the control right to ban relevant nations from free navigation in the East Sea, although in principle China commits to maintaining freedom of navigation.
This cannot happen if China is unable to hold de facto control rights in the waters. Therefore, the sovereign conflict in the East Sea is not just a bilateral issue, but a matter of regional security and global trade.
China understands this well and also understands that the US, Japan and other major powers know clearly about its plots in the East Sea. The holdup problem on the international level demonstrates the long-run ambition of China.
Careful analysis of this plot will create an international consensus to resolve the current conflict, which China is trying to turn into bilateral disputes with its neighbors over "undisputed" sovereignty in which China is the abused side.
Le Hong Nhat, VNN
About the author: Nhat has a Ph.D. diploma of economics at the Stanford University (USA). He is now a lecturer at the University of Economics - Law, National University of HCM City and a non-resident senior fellow at the Saigon Center for International Studies (SCIS), HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities.
This article was first published at the SCIC and published on VietNamNet under the cooperation program with Nghiencuuquocte.org.
 According to Stephen D. Krasner (1999), the term “sovereignty” could be understood in two main ways: (1) domestic sovereignty – actual control over a state exercised by an authority organized within this state. (2) international legal sovereignty – formal recognition by other sovereign states.
 According to the research institute of China, Unirule (2011)