Unilateral actions risk escalating tensions in East Sea: Vietnamese FM

This is not the first time Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh protests China at an international forum.

Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh has stated before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that unilateral actions risk escalating tensions in the East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea). 
 

Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Photo: Reuters

Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Photo: Reuters


“Vietnam has on many occasions voiced its concerns over the recent complicated developments in the East Sea, including serious incidents that infringed upon Vietnam’s sovereignty,” Minh said on Saturday [September 28] during the General Debate in New York, Bloomberg reported.

“Relevant states should exercise restraint and refrain from conducting unilateral acts, which might complicate or escalate tensions at sea, and settle disputes by peaceful means,” Minh said at the debate within the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Minh made the statement following the intrusion of a Chinese survey ship and armed escorts into Vietnamese waters, harassing Vietnam's oil operations within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). 

Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 and armed escorts repeatedly made incursion in Vietnamese territorial waters in early July and recently Lanjing, the world-largest crane vessel owned by China National Offshore Oil Corporation, has sailed through Vietnam’s EEZ.

China’s escalating aggression has caught Vietnam’s strong protest. Hanoi has raised voices against Beijing for seven times within the past three months. 

Earlier on July 31 at the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM), Minh denounced Chinese illegal activities that infringed upon Vietnamese waters. 

 

 
Vietnamese FM Pham Binh Minh at the UN General Assembly on September 28. Photo: AP

Vietnamese FM Pham Binh Minh at the UN General Assembly on September 28. 


On September 1, Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said “The East Sea has important implications for countries inside and outside the region in terms of economy, security, safety, freedom of aviation and navigation.” “Vietnam welcomes and is willing to join other nations and the international community” to maintain peace, stability and security in the region," she noted.

Sharing a long border with its fellow Communist country, Vietnam stands virtually in the region as it pushes back against Beijing whose so-called “nine-dash line” encompasses some 80% of the East Sea.

In territorial disputes in the East Sea, a region containing unexploited hydrocarbons worth US$2.5 trillion, China is nearing a deal with the Philippines for joint energy exploration in a contested area of the sea and just set up one-on-one talks with Malaysia to settle disputes in the waters.

China is increasing pressure on Vietnam by repeatedly sending coast guard ships and a survey vessel to an energy block operated by Russia’s Rosneft Oil PJSC near its shores. 

The US has accused China of intimidating other claimants from developing resources in the East Sea, and is conducting regular freedom-of-navigation operations (FONOPS) near land features claimed by China in the region. Hanoitimes/Bloomberg

Linh Pham

 
 

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