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Vietnam demands China, Philippines to restrain in South China Sea

Updated at Friday, 15 Mar 2019, 11:52
The Hanoitimes - Vietnamese Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said all parties must act responsibly while seeking peaceful solutions to maritime disputes.
Concerning parties in the South China Sea must restrain and not complicate the situation in the region, a Vietnamese spokeswoman said following rising tensions caused by China’s approach to an island occupied by the Philippines in Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands. 
 
Vietnamese Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang. Photo: MOFA
Vietnamese Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang. Photo: MOFA
Hanoi demands related parties closely comply with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) to avoid escalating tensions and ensure no illegal seizure of any part, even unoccupied structures in the sea, Spokeswoman of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang said Thursday. 

All parties must act responsibly while seeking peaceful solutions to maritime disputes, Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang voiced.

Recent moves 

On March 5, Philippine officials said Chinese fishing boats forced Filipino fishermen to leave Thitu Island in Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago, now claimed and occupied by the Philippines, VnExpress reported. Thitu is the second largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands and the largest of the Philippine-administered islands. 

On February 7, US-based think tank Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) of the International Strategic Research Center (CSIS) said that 95 Chinese vessels anchored close to the island on December 20, 2018. The number dropped to 42 on January 26, 2019.

The Philippines plans to build a beaching ramp on Thitu Island with an aim to lengthen the island’s runway to accommodate larger planes.

 
B-52 bomber in South China Sea. Photo: World of Weapons
A view of Thitu Island. Photo: USCNPM
On March 4, the US sent B-52 bombers to the South China Sea, saying it was part of routine missions. 

On March 14, the US Pacific Airforce sent additional two B-52 bombers, saying US aircraft regularly operate in the South China Sea in support of allies, partners, and a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

On March 6, Chinese vessel 44101 sank Vietnamese fishing boat QNg-90620 when the boat was fishing in the Da Loi (Discovery) Reef in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa which is about 198 nautical miles from Vietnam’s coastal city of Danang. 

No crew members were hurt and the fishing boat was rescued by another Vietnamese fishing boat on the same day.

Vietnam’s National Committee for Incident, Natural Disaster Response and Search and Rescue called on the Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center to coordinate with China to rescue them but no effort from Chinese side was made.

In a latest move, on March 12, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized China’s practices in the South China Sea. 

“By blocking development in the South China Sea through coercive means, China prevents ASEAN members from accessing more than US$2.5 trillion in recoverable energy reserves,” according to The Diplomat. 

In the South China Sea, China, along with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan, has competing claims. Beijing has clashed with Vietnam in particular over hydrocarbon exploration rights in disputed waters.

The Trump administration has identified China as a great power competitor of the United States and has pursued a “free and open” Indo-Pacific strategy to push back on what it sees as growing Chinese influence in the region, according to The Diplomat.
Linh Pham
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