Maritime Cooperation should Comply with 1982 UNCLOS: Spokesperson
|HMNZS Te Kaha, second from the right of the vessels at the rear, in company with ships from the UK, US, Canada, Netherlands, and Japan in the Philippines Sea. Photo: NZDF/STUFF|
The statement was made by spokeswoman of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang during an online press conference of the ministry on October 7, while responding to the query regarding New Zealand's HMNZS Te Kaha frigate joining the UK Carrier Strike Group on a voyage to the South China Sea (known as Bien Dong Sea in Vietnam) to engage in a large-scale international defence exercise.
Countries should make responsible contributions for common interests, in line with their aspirations on the rule of law, especially the 1982 UNCLOS, while maintaining peace, stability, security, safety and cooperation in the South China Sea, Hang was cited by VOV as saying.
International defence exercise
On October 6, the New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) released a statement saying that Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha is joining military partners as it transits the South China Sea en route to a major international defence exercise.
The New Zealand Defence Force last month announced its participation in Exercise Bersama Gold 21, and that it would interact with the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) as it conducts engagement activities in the Indo-Pacific region.
While with the CSG in recent days, there have also been exercises and training with ships from Japan, the Netherlands, Canada, and the United States, including the US aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan.
HMNZS Te Kaha and the Navy’s replenishment tanker HMNZS Aotearoa, with a Seasprite helicopter on board, departed Auckland in September.
HMNZS Aotearoa recently met up with HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s flagship vessel in the CSG, as both ships conducted exercises off the coast of Guam.
Now it is HMNZS Te Kaha’s turn as the frigate enters the South China Sea and transits in company with the CSG and ships of other partner nations.
|View from HMNZS Te Kaha as it exercises alongside ships from partner navies in the Philippines Sea. Photo: NZDF/STUFF|
The NZDF has operated in the South East Asia region for decades as part of bilateral and regional defence engagement, and demonstrates its commitment to regional security through its presence in the region.
NZDF deployments exercise freedom of navigation and overflight. The NZDF undertakes all activities in accordance with international law, and for ships in particular the UNCLOS.
HMNZS Aotearoa is en route to Singapore for Bersama Gold 21, a major exercise marking the 50th anniversary of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), which is being held off the coast of Singapore and the Malaysian Peninsula.
The nations of the FPDA are Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion will join the exercise, and will also interact with the CSG.
After about a week with the CSG, HMNZS Te Kaha will head to Singapore to participate in Bersama Gold 21.
Exercises with international militaries are designed to enhance interoperability and strengthen relationships, according to the NZDF.
UK Carrier Strike Group’s return transit
|HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group. Photo: ukdefencejournal.org.uk|
The UK Ministry of Defence also said in a press release On October 5, that the UK Carrier Strike Group is preparing for a return transit through the Indo-Pacific, Middle East and Mediterranean.
Since the end of May, the CSG has sailed over 32,000 nautical miles from the UK to Japan undertaking a range of air and maritime operations from the Black Sea to the Philippine Sea.
As a tangible demonstration of the UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt, over the past three months, ships from the Strike Group have conducted a series of engagements with regional partners.
In a further demonstration of this international deployment, over the next two weeks the CSG will navigate the South China Sea with ships and aircraft from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States.
HMS Diamond – a Type 45 Destroyer from the CSG – will also shortly be participating in Exercise Bersama Gold, marking the 50th anniversary of the Five Powers Defence Arrangements alongside Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand.
The busy period of military engagement in the Indo-Pacific, has also been mirrored by diplomatic progress. In a landmark moment, the UK became a Dialogue Partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on August 5, the first new country in 25 years./.
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