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|Indonesian Foreign Minister urges all parties to respect international law in East Sea|
|Vietnamese fishermen operate at the Hoang Sa fishing ground. (Photo: thanhnien.vn)|
According to VOV, Pierre Grega, Chairman of the Belgium-Vietnam Friendship Association, recently made the statement amid China's recent unilateral actions in the East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea).
He emphasised that these unilateral actions are opposed to the fundamental principles which guide the settlement of maritime issues, as well as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea signed in 2002 between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China.
Moreover, these various incidents have also complicated the situation in the East Sea in a detrimental way, causing harm to the negotiation process between China and ASEAN member states as they seek to achieve a Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea.
In the face of these Chinese actions, the Friendship Association has suggested that local fishermen should conduct safe fishing activities within the country's territorial waters. The nation wishes to deal with tensions in the East Sea within the framework of international law, most notably the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS).
The recent Chinese actions have led to a more complicated and tense situation in the East Sea amid the COVID-19 situation.
The Chinese Haiyang Dizhi 8 survey vessel has returned to waters within Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Reuters cited ship tracking data on April 14.
The ship, which is used to conduct offshore seismic surveys, on April 14 could again be seen 158 km (98 miles) off Vietnam’s coast flanked by at least one China Coast Guard vessel, according to data from Marine Traffic, a website that tracks shipping.
It comes after China’s sinking of Vietnamese fishermen’s boat with eight crew members onboard on April 4 off the waters of Hoang Sa (Paracel) islands, an incident not only drew sharp criticism from Vietnam, but also earned condemnation from the US and the Philippines, who is also a territory claimant in the resource-rich seas, as well as international experts.
Then China has once again defied international law by recently establishing two administrative districts on Paracel and Truong Sa (Spratly) – the two archipelagoes that belong to Vietnam in East Sea, VOV reported on April 19.
The country also has given names to 80 geographical features, include 25 islands, shoals and reefs and 55 oceanic mountains and ridges, in the Paracel and Spratly islands, The South China Morning Post reported on April 20.
China seized the Paracel Islands from South Vietnam by force in 1974 and has since been occupying them illegally. China also formed what’s called the “Sansha City” on Woody Island since 2012, with the intention of taking control of islands in the East Sea. China has also been illegally building artificial islands in recent years.
Vietnam has requested China many times to stop its illegal actions, which complicate the situation and threaten peace and stability in the East Sea. Vietnam also sent a diplomatic note to the United Nations to protest China’s unfounded sovereignty claims over the East Sea.
After China announced the establishment of what it calls the “Xisha” and “Nansha” districts in Vietnam’s Paracel and Spratly Islands on April 18, the spokesperson of Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry Le Thi Thu Hang said: “Vietnam has strongly affirmed many times that it has sufficient historical evidence and legal foundation to assert its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos.”
Vietnam strongly protests the establishment of the so-called “Sansha city” and related acts as they seriously violated Vietnam’s sovereignty, she said.
In its latest moves, China announced its annual summer fishing ban in parts of the East Sea, Xinhua news agency reported on May 1. China has been issuing similar fishing bans every year in recent times and Vietnam has always condemned them.
The area of the South China (East) Sea has been a flashpoint between China and the US in recent months, said the UK-based Daily Express.
Two US-flagged vessels, a USS Barry guided-missile destroyer and a USS Bunker Hill aircraft carrier sailed through the contested Spratly Islands as part of a series of naval freedom of navigation operations.
Chinese military accused the US of venturing into its occupied water – something Washington denies.
US Naval Commander Reann Mommsen said: “Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas.
“Including the freedoms of navigation and overflight and the right of innocent passage of all ships.”
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The Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) on May 11 said that China’s suspension of fishing in waters within Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea carries no weight whatsoever.