|China reportedly starts illegal drill on Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands today|
|China again deploying bomber to Paracel and violating Vietnam’s sovereignty over the archipelago|
|Chinese bomber appeared illegally at Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago|
|Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang. Photo: VNA|
Her statement was made during a regular press briefing held in Hanoi on August 26 in response to a reporter’s question about the Vietnamese reaction to China conducting military exercises in the northeastern waters of the nation's Hoang Sa archipelago.
“The fact that China’s continued military exercises in the archipelago violate Vietnam's sovereignty over the islands, running counter to the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), while further complicating the situation, according to VOV.
This is detrimental to current negotiations between China and ASEAN on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (COC) and the maintenance of a peaceful, stable, and co-operative environment in the area,” the official said.
According to The South China Morning Post, China is conducting military drills almost simultaneously in four sea regions, including the Yellow Sea and the East Sea (internationally called South China Sea).
Maritime safety administrations in four locations issued notices between Friday and Sunday announcing drills, and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said exercises had been completed in another. The locations included two in the East Sea, one in the East China Sea, one further north in the Yellow Sea, and one in the Bohai Gulf, the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea.
In the East Sea, a region east of the southern island province of Hainan will be restricted to military exercises from Monday until Saturday. Hainan hosts one of two home ports for China’s two aircraft carriers.
On the same days, north of Hainan but still in southern China, an area off Guangdong province in the East Sea had also been cordoned off to marine traffic while exercises took place.
|The Chinese People’s Liberation Army had already recently conducted drills in three sea regions. Photo: Handout/SCMP|
Despite it stepping up training and exercises in all services, it is unusual for China to conduct exercises in four areas at roughly the same time, and after a major round of exercises in the month preceding it, SCMP added.
Experts said the timing of the drills was intended to signal a capability to mobilise forces in multiple locations, even though Beijing was not aiming to fight a war against the US.
In July, China conducted military exercises in the East Sea, the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea, at a time when two US aircraft carriers conducted tactical air defence exercises in the East Sea that the US military said were in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific. But those Chinese exercises were not conducted simultaneously.
A Hague tribunal in 2016 ruled in favor of the Philippines’ claim to parts of the East Sea, including the Scarborough Shoal and parts of Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands. Beijing has refused to accept the ruling.
China seized Hoang Sa archipelagos from South Vietnam by force in 1974, and has since been illegally occupying them.
In 2012 it built the so-called "Sansha City" with Phu Lam (Woody) Island as its seat, and has since built a runway capable of handling military aircraft and other supporting structures, VnExpress reported.
The so-called city also extends to a number of reefs in Vietnam's Truong Sa archipelagos that China seized by force in 1988 as well as the Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by the Philippines.
Earlier in August, China has sent jet bomber to Phu Lam (Woody) island in the Paracels, earning protests from Vietnam.
Hang reiterated that Paracel and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in the East Sea are “inseparable parts of Vietnam” and that the country has sufficient legal basis and historical evidence to prove its sovereignty over the two island chains in the East Sea.
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./.
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