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US asks China to stop "bullying behavior" in South China Sea

14:01 | 19/04/2020

The United States asked China on Saturday to stop “bullying behavior” in the South China Sea and said it was concerned by China’s “provocative actions” aimed at offshore oil and gas developments in the disputed waters. Meanwhile, Vietnam calls the South China Sea the East Sea.     

us asks china to stop bullying behavior in south china sea Reuters: Chinese Haiyang Dizhi 8 survey vessel returns to Vietnam's EEZ
us asks china to stop bullying behavior in south china sea US senators criticise China cause division and tension in East Sea
us asks china to stop bullying behavior in south china sea Vietnam submits note against China's illegal claims over East Sea to UN
us asks china to stop bullying behavior in south china sea
The East Sea (Photo: Thanh Nien)

Three regional security sources said on Friday that a Chinese government survey ship was tagging an exploration vessel operated by Malaysia’s state oil company Petronas in those waters.

According to CNBC, earlier in the week, when the survey ship the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was off Vietnam, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman had said the ship was conducting normal activities and accused U.S. officials of smearing Beijing.

“The United States is concerned by reports of China’s repeated provocative actions aimed at the offshore oil and gas development of other claimant states,” the U.S. State Department said in an emailed statement on Saturday.

“In this instance, China should cease its bullying behaviour and refrain from engaging in this type of provocative and destabilizing activity,”

us asks china to stop bullying behavior in south china sea
Chinese oil survey vessel Haiyang Dizhi 8. (Photo: China Geological Survey)

China's actions threaten regional energy security and undermine the free and open Indo-Pacific energy market, it added.

China claims almost all of the resource-rich South China Sea, also a major trade route. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

The Haiyang Dizhi 8 was still within Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone, Marine Traffic data showed on Saturday. The area is close to waters claimed by both Vietnam and Malaysia as well as by China.

As reported by Reuters, Malaysian security source had said the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was flanked at one point on Friday by more than 10 Chinese vessels, including those belonging to maritime militia and the coast guard. A Vietnamese vessel was also tagging the Petronas vessel.

us asks china to stop bullying behavior in south china sea
The East Sea (Photo: VnExpress)

Vietnam calls the South China Sea the East Sea

Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang, upon questioned of the Chinese survey ship's presence in Vietnam's EEZ, said on April 14 that Vietnam always monitors East Sea developments and insists that all nations comply with international laws.

"Vietnam demands that all nations follow regulations of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and international rules in all activities, contributing to building peace, stability and cooperation in the East Sea." Hang said.

In July last year, the Haiyang Dizhi 8 and its escort vessels had violated Vietnam’s EEZ and the continental shelf of Vietnam near the Vanguard Bank, occupying the area until August 7. The vessels returned to the water area on August 13 and stayed until October.

Vietnam repeatedly condemned the operations of the vessel and escorts as a violation of its sovereignty and demanded that they leave Vietnamese waters immediately, according to VnExpress.

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