What Vietnam Says about Recent Maritime Activities on South China Sea (Bien Dong Sea)

Maritime activities of countries inside and outside the region need to strictly comply with the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
August 06, 2021 | 08:59
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What Vietnam say about maritime activities on South China Sea (Bien Dong Sea)
Spokesperson for the foreign ministry Le Thi Thu Hang. Photo from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Vietnam on August 5th condemned China’s newly announced military drill near its Hoang Sa (Paracels) archipelago as a serious violation of the country’s sovereignty.

Spokesperson for the foreign ministry Le Thi Thu Hang made the comment during the press briefing in Hanoi, in response to a military drill held between Aug. 6-10 in the northern part of the South China Sea between Hainan island and Paracel islands by unspecified arms/units of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

The South China Sea known as Bien Dong Sea in Vietnam (translated as the East Sea also).

“As constantly reiterated, Vietnam has sufficient legal grounds and historical evidence proving its sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) islands, in line with international law,” Hang said.

The area marked for exercise covers 100,000 sq.km of water, including large parts of Hoang Sa islands which belong to Vietnam but much of it has currently been under China’s control after a violent seizure by Chinese forces back in the 1970s.

“China’s military exercise in the Hoang Sa islands area constitute a serious violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty, go against the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, complicating the situation and is not helpful to either the ongoing negotiations between China and ASEAN on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea nor the maintenance of peace and cooperation in the South China Sea,” Hang said.

“Vietnam asks that China respects its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa islands, put an end to the act and not to repeat offences of similar nature that complicates the situation in the South China Sea,” the spokesperson stressed.

What Vietnam Says about Recent Maritime Activities on South China Sea (Bien Dong Sea)
Chinese structures are pictured in Subi Reef in South China Sea. Reuters File Photo

The exercise came as the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and related meetings are still ongoing, while Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi has insisted during a ASEAN-China session on Aug.3 that the two sides have maintained “a stable situation in general and freedom of navigation and overflight have been protected by the law.”

He also called for vigilance against “some countries outside the region” that have become “biggest disruptors” in the sea in thinly veiled criticism of other international actors such as the US or EU in defiance of China’s vast claims of the resource-rich sea.

Regarding India's announcement of sending four warships to the South China Sea to participate in multilateral and bilateral exercises, including with Vietnam, the spokesperson said Vietnam’s consistent policy is that its maritime activities of countries inside and outside the region need to strictly comply with the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Any activity should make responsible contributions to the maintenance of peace, stability, security and safety, order, rules of law, and cooperation at sea for the sake of common interests, in line with the aspirations of countries in the region and the international community, the Vietnamese diplomat noted.

India is sending a naval task force to the South China Sea this month to expand security ties with friendly countries, the Indian navy said in a statement on Aug. 4, according to Hindustan Times.

Four ships, including a guided missile destroyer and a missile frigate, will be deployed for a two-month period to southeast Asia, the South China Sea and the western Pacific, the Indian navy said in the statement.

The Indian ships will take part in annual joint war drills with the United States, Japan and Australia - the group known as Quad.

The US and Britain have deployed their respective naval vessels in the region. The Elizabeth carrier strike group is heading to Japan to exercise with its maritime forces.

What Vietnam Says about Recent Maritime Activities on South China Sea (Bien Dong Sea)
The German frigate Bayern has been sent on a six-month voyage that will include a passage through the South China Sea. Photo: DPA

Germany too dispatched the warship Bayern on a six-month voyage that will make it the first German naval vessel to pass through the South China Sea in 19 years, passing within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese coast, reported the South China Morning Post.

Officials in Berlin have said the German navy will stick to common trade routes. The frigate is not expected to sail through the Taiwan Strait.

Nevertheless, Berlin has made it clear the mission serves to stress the fact Germany does not accept China's territorial claims, wrote CNN.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer travelled to the port of Wilhelmshaven to see the frigate Bayern off on its seven-month voyage that will take it to Australia, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.

The vessel is expected to cross the South China Sea in mid-December, making it the first German warship to pass through the region since 2002.

"We want existing law to be respected, sea routes to be freely navigable, open societies to be protected and trade to follow fair rules," Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

Washington has rejected what it calls unlawful territorial claims by Beijing in the waters.

In June, a US aircraft carrier group led by the USS Ronald Reagan entered the South China Sea as part of a routine mission.

US Vice President Kamala Harris is going to visit Vietnam and Singapore this month; and will focus on defending international rules in the South China Sea during her trip, said a senior White House official.

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