Fortifications such as the one on Vietnamese-controlled Phan Vinh Island in the South China Sea's Spratly chain are one method countries in the disputed waters press their claims.
(Vietnam News Agency/AFP/Getty Images)
As China tries to make nice with some of its rivals in the South China Sea, Vietnam is quietly building up its own maritime defenses. Over the past month, a series of satellite images has shown that Hanoi is accelerating its island reclamation and fortification efforts in the Spratly island chain. Combined with its pursuit of defense partnerships with the United States, Russia, France and India, as well as its improving air and naval assets, Vietnam appears determined to thwart China's ambitions to expand its claims over the disputed waters.
Some of Vietnam's neighbors, however, may spoil its plans. The Philippines and Malaysia have given in to Chinese pressure and agreed to manage their territorial feuds with Beijing through bilateral talks rather than international arbitration. Though Vietnam has tried to avoid drawing China's ire by mending ties with it in other ways, Hanoi's continued defiance on maritime issues could incite retaliation...