Image via Google Maps.
China is really proving to be the internet troll of global politics. Like a bored prankster who orders pizzas to a stranger’s address, China has extended 3G mobile coverage to the disputed Spratly Islands (南沙) in the South China Sea. Needless to say, Vietnam, which also claims the territory, is not happy.
Tech in Asia:
The development will be yet another drop of lemon in the souring of Sino-Vietnamese relations in the past year. The Vietnamese government even voiced its complaint on nguyentandung.org, the Vietnamese Prime Minister’s website.
Chinese soldiers and fishermen will now be able to text message, call, and chat online with family back home over the new 3G network. This upgrade to 3G from regular cellular coverage (started in 2011) and the recent 3G network in the disputed Paracel Islands in July 2012 signals a more permanent Chinese presence on the rocky outposts.
Amid China’s escalating 3G and infrastructure support for the islands, and other points of contention between the two neighbors, my question is this: Have Vietnamese telcos provided 3G to Vietnamese citizens living on those same islands? If not, Vietnam is falling behind in the race for an administrative claim over the islands. Vietnam has had cellular coverage on the Spratly Islands since 2006 but word on the street is there’s no 3G yet.
All in all, a fantastic piece of passive aggressive international diplomacy/trolling. Vietnam could respond in turn, and seriously piss off China, by extending their own 3G networks to cover the islands… with unfettered Facebook and Twitter access.