Jul 03, 2020 / 16:23

Vietnam protests China's military exercises in South China Sea

The Hanoitimes - The military exercises are the latest in a long string of China’s actions to assert unlawful maritime claims in the disputed sea.

The Vietnamese foreign ministry has said it met with the Chinese diplomatic mission in Hanoi to protest China's ongoing military exercises in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel islands) in the South China Sea.

Vietnam also demands China not to repeat any similar violations in the future as the latter is conducting military drills near the Paracel archipelago from July 1 to 5.

 Spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Photo: MOFA

“China’s moves have violated Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa islands, go against the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), complicate the situation that would harm the negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) between ASEAN and China and the maintenance of peace, stability, and cooperation in the sea,” Spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said at a press conference on July 2.

In response to China’s military exercises, the US Department of Defense has expressed its concern about the moves.

“Conducting military exercises over disputed territory in the South China Sea is counterproductive to efforts at easing tensions and maintaining stability,” the department said in a statement on July 2.

It said China’s actions will further destabilize the situation in the South China Sea. Such exercises also violate China's commitments under the 2002 DOC to avoid activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.

The military exercises are the latest in a long string of China’s actions to assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea. The actions stand in contrast to its pledge to not militarize the South China Sea and the US vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, in which all nations, large and small, are secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth consistent with accepted international rules and norms.

The US Department of Defense will continue to monitor the situation with the expectation that China will reduce its militarization and coercion of its neighbors in the South China Sea.

“We urge all parties to exercise restraint and not undertake military activities that might aggravate disputes in the South China Sea,” the department said.