Vietnam slams unilateral East Sea actions

By Huyen Le   June 7, 2021 | 07:12 am PT
Vietnam slams unilateral East Sea actions
Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung at SOM DOC-19 in Chongqing City, China. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Unilateral actions in the East Sea have increased tensions and eroded trust, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung said at an ASEAN-China meeting Monday.

Although maintaining peace, stability and security in the East Sea, known internationally as the South China Sea, is the common interest of ASEAN and China, unilateral actions were still happening, violating the legal rights and interests of countries bordering the East Sea, he said.

Such actions increase tensions and erode trust, and goes against the joint efforts being made by ASEAN and China, he said at the 19th ASEAN-China Senior Officials Meeting on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (SOM-DOC) in China’s Chongqing City. The meeting is taking place in the framework of the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

Dung called on all parties to seriously, and in good faith, implement the DOC and existing commitments, comply with international law and the United Nations' Charter and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982), creating a favorable environment for negotiation and building a substantive and effective Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in accordance with international law.

Other participants noted that despite the impacts and complicated development of the Covid-19 pandemic, ASEAN and China were still striving to implement cooperative activities within the framework of implementing the DOC, including cooperation in marine environment protection, and ensuring humane and fair treatment of fishermen.

They also expressed concern about complicated developments in the East Sea. Many agreed with Vietnam that unilateral activities contrary to international law were not conducive to the process of cooperation in implementing the DOC and negotiating the COC.

The parties at the same time affirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, respecting freedom, security and safety of navigation and overflight and peacefully resolving disputes in the East Sea in accordance with the provisions of international law and UNCLOS. ASEAN and China are committed to continue to seriously, in good faith, fully and effectively implement the DOC.

ASEAN and China agreed to accelerate the COC negotiation process and direct the Joint Working Group to resume it in an appropriate form soon. The countries reaffirmed their desire to achieve an effective and efficient COC in accordance with international law and UNCLOS 1982.

China's nine-dash line claims 90 percent of the 3.5-million-square- kilometer South China Sea, despite a ruling against it by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands, in July 2016. This country has recently taken many unilateral actions in the South China Sea, causing protests from countries in the region.

The Philippines in March accused more than 200 Chinese "maritime militia" ships of anchoring at Ba Dau (Whitsun) Reef in the waters of Sinh Ton Commune in Vietnam's Spratly Archipelago, which Manila is also claims.

Many countries voiced concern about the new tense situation in the region and opposed the threatening moves of the Chinese fleet. In May, the Philippines accused China of continuing to send 100 more maritime militia ships to the area.

The Chinese Coast Guard announced in April that it would enforce a summer fishing ban from May 1 to September 16, covering the Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea, East China Sea and the waters north to 12 degrees north latitude of the East Sea, including part of the Gulf of Tonkin and Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago.

The Malaysian Air Force announced last week that 16 Chinese Il-76 and Y-20 transport aircraft appeared about 60 nautical miles off the coast of Sarawak state, forcing the country to send fighter jets to monitor the situation.

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