Director of the French Institute for International and Strategic Relations (IRIS), former Air Defence General Jean-Vincent Brisset has suggested that Vietnam bring China to the international arbitration court as an effective way of dealing with China’s violation of international law.

Brisset, who has written books and conducted research on China, made the suggestion in a recent interview with radio The Voice of Vietnam (VOV).

*Addressing the recent World Economic Forum on East Asia and answering Reuters’s questions, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung did not rule out the possibility of using legal action to protest against China’s illegal placement of its drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Vietnam’s waters. What do you think of this possibility?

I think China will seek to block the lawsuit. But a lawsuit is crucial, it will show to the world China’s violation of international law and how Vietnam will deal with this. Vietnam should take advantage of this important communication strategy. It would also help ASEAN come up with new approaches to settling East Sea disputes.

*Besides legal action, what else do you think Vietnam should do to resolve the matter?

Vietnam should immediately convene a conference of ASEAN countries involved in the territorial dispute [the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and even Indonesia] to reach consensus on reactions to China. ASEAN countries should be aware that a single nation is unable to confront China in the long run.

Vietnam needs to enhance communications overseas, for instance publishing more video clips that show Chinese ships firing water cannons at Vietnamese coast guard and fishing vessels near the rig, to unmask China’s provocation.

*As a leading expert on China, how do you view China’s strategy in the East Sea following its oil rig placement?

This is part of China’s long-term strategy aimed at controlling the entire East Sea. They carefully premeditate every step, and their strategy is targeted at related nations, one after another, so that ASEAN cannot produce a strong common reaction altogether.

Regional countries must realise that China is emerging and this trend will continue with stronger actions in the near future. This is the naked truth and the sooner you deal with it, the more you counterbalance the risk.

*Do you think there is a military risk in the region?

Not really at the moment. China is aware that a military conflict means the whole world will adopt another stance towards it, and condemn its action. Therefore, China strives to avoid a military conflict over territorial tensions in the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.

However, there is a high risk of serious collision between the two sides’ vessels at sea, and a loss of temper could lead to escalation.-VNA