Vietnam launches 'sovereignty' cruise likely to irk China

2015-06-04 21:18


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Hanoi - Vietnam is offering scores of patriotic citizens the holiday of a lifetime with a cruise to some of Asia's most hotly contested islands, in a move likely to stoke its simmering dispute with Beijing over South China Sea sovereignty.

In a special $800 promotion offer, 180 Vietnamese will get to see parts of the disputed Spratly archipelago later this month and take part in night fishing, visit a lighthouse and enjoy local seafood.

High-rollers will have VIP hotel rooms and can fly in on their private helicopters, according to the Ho Chi Minh City government's website.

The elaborately worded offer is for a six-day cruise that will visit two reefs and two islands in the Spratlys, or Truong Sa in Vietnamese, which the country has occupied for some time despite rival claims.

It makes little attempt to disguise its political flavour, and comes as Vietnam pursues a bolder agenda in pushing its claims in the face of China's own growing assertiveness.

"Travelling to Truong Sa ... means the big trip of your life, reviving national pride and citizens' awareness of the sacred maritime sovereignty of the country," the promotion said.

"Tourists will no longer feel Truong Sa as far away, the blue Truong Sa ocean will be deep in people's hearts."

Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia each compete for jurisdiction of the Spratlys with China, which claims nine-tenths of the South China Sea, a vital global shipping lane with potentially vast energy reserves.

The cruise mirrors those offered by China on ships like its "Coconut Princess", and illustrates a growing civilian presence in the South China Sea as countries vie to cement their competing claims.

China has been criticised for extensive reclamation work and moves to turn submerged rocks into man-made structures. The United States last week said Beijing had placed mobile artillery systems in contested territory.

Despite close party-to-party ties with Communist neighbour China and nearly $60bn of annual trade, analysts say Vietnam has taken a harder line since a fresh territorial row erupted last year and wants to boost diplomatic and military alliances.

Its media ran news last month of the opening of a new school on the Spratlys, and Vietnamese troops stationed there joined counterparts from the Philippines in a soccer match.

The cruise is a trial run ahead of Vietnam's tentative plans to put the Spratlys on its tourism map, including scheduled passenger flights, possibly this year.

The description reads like a brochure for a Caribbean holiday.

"See 300 species of coral creating wonderful reefs in sparkling colours, in ravishing, fantastic beauty," it said.

"Watch the sunrise over the ocean, and say goodbye to the sunset in the evening amid the immense sky and sea." 

Read more on:    china  |  vietnam

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.