Canada opposes military build-up in South China Sea

By Phuong Vu   November 18, 2020 | 05:30 am PT
Canada opposes military build-up in South China Sea
Chinese structures are pictured at Vietnam's Spratly Islands in the East Sea, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Erik De Castro.
Canadian defense minister Harjit Sajjan has made it clear that his nation is against militarization in the South China Sea.

"Canada opposes unilateral actions that have escalated tensions in the region and undermined stability in the South China Sea. We are against the threat or use of force, large-scale land reclamation, building outposts on disputed entities and using them for military purposes in the sea," he said.

The Canadian Minister of National Defense was speaking at the 12th South China Sea International Conference held November 16-17 in Hanoi. Vietnam calls the waterway the East Sea.

Canada supports legal, free navigation and aviation that are in line with international law, he said.

"We continue to urge all parties to comply with previous commitments, including the commitment to demilitarize the disputed entities and those made in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, or DOC, in 2002," Sajjan said.

The minister also emphasized that Canada considered the Asia-Pacific region important to its security and prosperity.

He affirmed that Canada will always seek to cooperate with trusted allies and partners to maintain rule-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region, including Southeast Asia.

Canada favors a multilateral approach to problem solving, while advocating for dialogue and cooperation, based on mutual respect between countries, he added.

He also expressed Canada's support for the important work done by ASEAN in promoting cooperation and mutual respect among nations, as well as enhancing regional security.

Commenting on the conference, Sajjan said: "This is an important opportunity to foster a productive dialogue between partners and allies, while at the same time, delivering diverse and valuable perspectives."

China claims historical jurisdiction over about 80 percent of the sea, using an internationally discredited U-shaped "nine-dash line" that includes swathes of Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, or EEZ, as well as Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos. The Chinese claims also overlap the EEZs of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

China has created the so-called "Xisha" and "Nansha" districts on the Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands, sunk Vietnamese fishing vessels off the former on different occasions.

Vietnam has repeatedly condemned China’s illegal actions in the South China Sea, which it calls East Sea, claiming full legal basis and historical evidence to affirm its sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel Islands in accordance with international law. All activities conducted by any party near either island without its prior consent hold no value, Vietnam has stressed.

The 12th South China Sea International Conference, themed "Maintaining Peace and Cooperation through a Time of Turbulence" gathered more than 300 participants in Hanoi. More than 400 delegates participated online.

Most participants were scholars from countries with direct involvement in the sea, experts, researchers and officials from ASEAN countries, Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the U.S.

go to top