In a bid to assert its sovereignty in the South China Sea and gauge international response, China may have overplayed its hand. On May 2, the oil rig HD-981, owned and operated by the state-owned enterprise China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), protected by about 80 vessels and aircraft from the People’s Liberation Army Navy and Chinese coast guard, was moved inside Vietnam’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone (waters disputed by China, claiming much of the South China as its territory).

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