US, Japan Express Concern Over South China Sea (Bien Dong Sea) at ASEAN Forum

The United States and Japan have expressed concern over the situation in the South China Sea (called Bien Dong Sea in Vietnam), where China has been aggressively pushing its territorial claims.
August 08, 2021 | 07:34
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The 28th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF-28) took place virtually on August 6. (Photo: VNA)
The 28th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF-28) took place virtually on August 6. Photo: VNA

Speaking at the foreign ministerial meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Beijing to "cease its provocative behavior in the South China Sea", according to Kyodo News.

For the situation in the East and South China seas, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi stated that unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force are "continuing and intensifying" in the waters, in a veiled criticism of Beijing's assertiveness there.

"Japan strongly opposes this," Motegi was quoted as saying in the ministry's press release.

Beijing has frequently sent official vessels to waters around the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea in an attempt to lay claim to them. It has also built artificial islands with military infrastructure in the South China Sea, claiming sovereignty over almost the entire maritime area.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that "interference by countries outside the region constituted the biggest threat to peace and stability" in the South China Sea, and the abuse of "freedom of navigation" should be resisted by the nations in the region, according to China's Foreign Ministry.

US warships have carried out freedom of navigation operations there in an apparent bid to counter Chinese claims and actions in the sea, a strategic waterway through which more than one-third of global trade passes.

Upholding international law

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son (Photo: VNA)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son. Photo: VNA

The Vietnam News Agency (VNA) said the forum shared a common perception on the importance of peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

Participating foreign ministers reaffirmed the principles of settling disputes in the waters by peaceful measures and exercising self-restraint, as well as upholding international law.

They underscored the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and welcomed new progress in building an effective and efficient Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) in line with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

In his remarks, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son reiterated the principle stance of ASEAN and Vietnam on the South China Sea issue, and stressed the significance of promoting trust, exercising restraint, and taking no actions that would complicate the situation and harm the maritime environment.

Disputes and differences should be resolved through peaceful measures in line with international law and the 1982 UNCLOS, he said.

The minister affirmed that Vietnam will actively work with other ASEAN member countries and China to build an effective and substantive COC in accordance with international law and the 1982 UNCLOS.

The ARF comprises the 10 ASEAN states as well as China, Japan, the United States, Russia, North and South Korea, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the European Union, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, East Timor, Mongolia and Sri Lanka.

At the forum, the US and Japan also took up Beijing's nuclear arms issue, Kyodo News said.

The top US diplomat noted "deep concern" over the rapid growth of China's nuclear arsenal, saying it highlights how Beijing has "sharply deviated from its decades-old nuclear strategy based on minimum deterrence," according to the State Department.

The Japanese minister told the meeting that he wants to encourage China, along with other countries, to fulfill the responsibilities of a nuclear-weapon state, touching on an agreement between the US and Russia earlier this year to extend the last remaining treaty capping their nuclear arsenals.

He called for Beijing to "engage in bilateral dialogue with the United States on arms control," according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry./.

Satellite image of the Woody Island, part of Vietnam's Paracel Islands. Photo courtesy of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Satellite image of the Woody Island, part of Vietnam's Paracel Islands. Photo courtesy of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Vietnam has asked China to stop and not repeat military drills on its Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands, asserting that they violate Vietnam's sovereignty, VnExpress.

"China performing drills on Vietnam's Paracel Islands violates Vietnam's sovereignty over the islands, goes against the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), complicates the situation, and is not beneficial for current negotiations between China and ASEAN on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea (COC), as well as the maintenance of peace, stability and cooperation at the South China Sea," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said August 5.

She was responding during a regular press meet to inquiries regarding the Maritime Safety Administration of China's Hainan Province announcing on August 4 that a military drill will be held August 6-10 at Vietnam’s Paracel Islands and the southeastern region of China's Hainan Island.

Vietnam has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly (Truong Sa) islands in accordance with international law, Hang reiterated.

"Vietnam requests China to respect Vietnam's sovereignty over the Paracel Islands, to end and not to repeat similar violations that complicate the situation in the South China Sea," she said.

Vietnam's Paracel Islands have been forcefully and illegally occupied by China since 1974.

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