Jul 20, 2019 / 23:34

US concerned by reports of China’s interference in Vietnam’s oil activities in South China Sea

The Hanoitimes - “The United States firmly opposes coercion and intimidation by any claimant to assert its territorial or maritime claims.”

The US Department of State has said it is concerned by reports of China’s interference with oil and gas activities in the South China Sea (SCS), including Vietnam’s long-standing exploration and production activities. 
“China’s repeated provocative actions aimed at the offshore oil and gas development of other claimant states threaten regional energy security and undermine the free and open Indo-Pacific energy market,” the department’s Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said on July 20.
 
The US navy regularly conducts Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea. Photo: National Interest
The US navy regularly conducts Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea. Photo: National Interest
The statement was made one day after Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested a Chinese survey ship and its escorts against violating Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, and demanded China to stop all unlawful activities and withdraw its ships from Vietnamese waters.

“China’s reclamation and militarization of disputed outposts in the SCS, along with other efforts to assert its unlawful SCS maritime claims, including the use of maritime militia to intimidate, coerce, and threaten other nations, undermine the peace and security of the region,” the US State Department added.

China’s growing pressure on ASEAN countries to accept Code of Conduct provisions that seek to restrict their right to partner with third party companies or countries further reveal its intent to assert control over oil and gas resources in the South China Sea, according to the statement.

“The United States firmly opposes coercion and intimidation by any claimant to assert its territorial or maritime claims,” the department affirmed, asking China to cease its bullying behavior and refrain from engaging in this type of provocative and destabilizing activity.

Before the State Department’s statement, John Bolton, the Trump administration’s security advisor, tweeted that: “Respect for sovereignty & freedom of navigation are fundamental to the Indo-Pacific vision shared by (the) US & Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). China’s coercive behavior towards its Southeast Asian neighbors is counterproductive & threatens regional peace & stability.”