Australia to continue to support freedom of navigation in South China sea, PM says

By Reuters, VnExpress   July 16, 2020 | 07:14 pm PT
Australia to continue to support freedom of navigation in South China sea, PM says
Vietnam's fishing boats dock in the water off the south-central coast in May 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Dang Le.
Australia will continue to advocate “very strongly” for the freedom of navigation through the South China Sea, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

"Australia will continue to adopt a very consistent position," Morrison told a media briefing in Canberra when asked if the country backed the position of the United States on the South China Sea.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday the United States would support countries that believed China has violated their maritime claims in the South China Sea, but stressed doing so in multilateral and legal forums.

Vietnam calls the South China Sea the East Sea.

China has taken a series of provocative actions in the waters since the start of this year as countries around the world were focused on battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

It formed the so-called ‘Xisha’ and ‘Nansha’ districts in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands, sank Vietnamese fishing vessels off the Paracels, unilaterally issued a fishing ban and sent a ship to harass a Malaysian oil and gas exploration vessel.

China recently announced a vegetable farming project on Woody (Phu Lam) Island in the Paracels to strengthen its illegal sovereignty claim, and sent two diplomatic notes to the U.N. to make the infamous Four Sha claim, which covers a broader swath of territory than the notorious, illegal nine-dash line.

Vietnam has repeatedly protested China’s provocative, illegal actions and urged it to desist.

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