A Reuters report revealed that Vietnam has discreetly shipped new mobile rocket launchers into position on five bases in the Nansha Islands in the disputed South China Sea in recent months.
The launchers are said to be capable of striking China's runways and important trade routes in the region, and experts believe the move by Hanoi will likely raise tensions in the region.
As the waves created by the controversial South China Sea arbitration initiated by Philippines have barely subsided, the reported new deployment by Vietnam will add to the difficulty of solving the South China Sea disputes peacefully.
After the international arbitration, the reaction of other claimants such as Vietnam is especially important.
Fortifying the islands with rocket launchers, if proved to be true, will only demonstrate Vietnam's determination to strengthen its military deployment.
Vietnam has been enhancing its control of the islets and islands in Nansha in order to consolidate the beneficial status quo. Vietnam's Foreign Ministry has reportedly said the information about the rocket launchers is "inaccurate," though it did not elaborate.
We hope that the report is only speculation from Western media. The international arbitration of the South China Sea disputes failed to produce a result the West thinks desirable. After the arbitration, Manila and Beijing have been engaging in bilateral talks to repair battered relationship.
It can be expected that the West won't easily give up using arbitration as leverage to pile pressure on China and continue to stoke more tensions in the region. The regional stakeholders should be wary of the West's tactics.
If Vietnam's latest deployment is targeting China, that would be a terrible mistake. We hope Vietnam will remember and draw some lessons from history.
During the 6th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in the Lao capital of Vientiane last month, all parties pledged in the China-ASEAN joint statement to "return to the right track of resolving specific disputes through consultations by parties directly concerned."
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said it "sends out a positive message that China and ASEAN will jointly maintain stability in the South China Sea."
The statement shows that most regional countries have opted for risk control for the greater good.
From this perspective, all parties should spare no effort in exercising restraints amid tensions to avoid dragging the entire region into a new crisis.