The foreign ministers of Australia, the US and Japan have expressed their "serious concern" over "credible reports of disruptive activities in relation to longstanding oil and gas projects" in the East Sea.
- a coded reference to Chinese vessels harassing Vietnamese ships trying to access key oil rigs.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (second from left) andAustralian Foreign Minister Marise Payne (second from right) at the consultation on August 4
According to Australia’s newspaper The Canberra Times, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Japanese ForeignMinister Taro Kono discussed the issue during their meeting in Bangkok lastweek.
They expressed serious concerns about negative developments in the East Sea, and voiced strong opposition to coercive unilateral actions that could alterthe status quo and increase tensions such as land reclamation, construction ofoutposts, militarisation of disputed features and other actions that causepermanent physical change to the marine environment in areas pending delimitationin the waters.
Meanwhile, on August 3,Reuters reported that US Defense Secretary Mark Esper held that China isdestabilising the Indo-Pacific, charging Beijing with predatory economics,intellectual property theft and “weaponising the global commons”.
“We also stand firmly againsta disturbing pattern of aggressive behaviour, destabilising behaviour fromChina. This includes weaponising the global commons, using predatory economicsand debt for sovereignty deals, and promoting state-sponsored theft of othernations’ intellectual property,” he stated.
He declared that the US andits allies and partners will work to ensure security in the region amidstescalating threats.
Earlier, US State Departmentspokesman Morgan Ortagus said that the United States is concerned byreports of China’s interference with oil and gas activities in the East Sea,including Vietnam’s long-standing exploration and production activities.
China’s reclamation and militarisation of disputed outposts in the EastSea, along with other efforts to assert its unlawful East Sea maritime claims,including the use of maritime militia to intimidate, coerce, and threaten othernations, undermine the peace and security of the region, he said.
At the same time,spokesperson of the India’s External Affairs Ministry Raveesh Kumar said at theweekly press conference: “We have genuine and legitimate interests in peace,stability and predictability of access to the major waterways in the region.”The East Sea is important as 55 percent of India’s trade passes through it, headded.-VNA