Freedom of navigation a joint responsibility of all nations: Vietnam

By Vu Anh   January 24, 2019 | 07:48 pm PT
Freedom of navigation a joint responsibility of all nations: Vietnam
The crew of the destroyer USS McCampbell in the East China Sea on December 27, 2018. Photo handed out by Reuters
Respect international laws and maintain peace, Vietnam says as the U.S. and the U.K. held joint drill in the South China Sea.

"Maintaining peace, stability, security, safety, freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea is the mutual benefits and responsibility of countries inside and outside the region," foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang told the press Thursday, using the Vietnamese name for the disputed waters.

A U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer, the USS McCampbell, and a Royal Navy frigate, the HMS Argyll, conducted communications drills on January 11-16 "to address common security priorities," the U.S. Navy said in a press statement.

This is the first time the two navies have conducted joint naval maneuvers in the waters since China built island bases there.

The drill took place four months after another British warship, the 22,000-ton HMS Albion, sailed close to the islands.

Early this month, USS McCampbell had sailed near the Paracel Islands, performing a "freedom of navigation" operation, sailing within 12 nautical miles off the islands, "to challenge excessive maritime claims" by China, Reuters had reported.

China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which some $3 trillion worth of ship-borne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Neither the United States nor Britain has territorial claims in the area.

Pictures of China’s island bases released last year appeared to show truck-mounted surface-to-air missiles or anti-ship cruise missiles. China’s air force has also landed bombers on disputed islands as part of training exercises in the region.

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