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Jul 16, 2020 / 06:23

Vietnam welcomes US stance on South China Sea

Vietnam hopes other countries to make efforts to contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Vietnam has hinted that it welcomes the United States' recently announced position that rejects China's maritime claims in the South China Sea through which over US$5 trillion worth of trade cruising through its waters every year.

 Spokesperson of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang. Photo: Baoquocte

"Vietnam welcomes countries’ positions on the East Sea issues which are consistent with international law and shares the view, as stated in the statement issued on the occasion of the 36th ASEAN Summit, that the UNCLOS sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out," Spokesperson of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang stated in an announcement on July 15 in reaction to US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s recent position on maritime claims in the South China Sea.

UNCLOS is the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which Vietnam and China are parties. The US has not ratified the Convention yet.

Hang said that "Peace, stability, cooperation and development in the East Sea (the South China Sea) are the common aspirations and goals shared by countries in the East Sea, the region and the world. Respecting the legal order at sea and implementing in full and with good faith and responsibility the UNCLOS is of critical importance to the realisation of these goals."

Hang went on to say: “Vietnam hopes that countries will try their best to contribute to the maintenance of peace, stability and cooperation in the East Sea as well as to the settlement of disputes through dialogues and other peaceful means under international law for the common sake and in accordance with the aspirations of regional countries and the international community. Vietnam has always contributed in a positive and responsible manner to this course."

In the statement on Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced that “Beijing uses intimidation to undermine the sovereign rights of Southeast Asian coastal states in the South China Sea, bully them out of offshore resources, assert unilateral dominion, and replace international law with “might makes right”.

Pompeo added that China has no legal grounds to unilaterally impose its will on the region. Beijing has offered no coherent legal basis for its “Nine-Dashed Line” claim in the South China Sea since formally announcing it in 2009.

He stated that the US rejects any Chinese claim to waters beyond a 12-nautical mile territorial sea derived from islands it claims in the Spratly Islands (without prejudice to other states’ sovereignty claims over such islands). As such, the United States rejects any PRC maritime claim in the waters surrounding Vanguard Bank (off Vietnam), Luconia Shoals (off Malaysia), waters in Brunei’s EEZ, and Natuna Besar (off Indonesia).

“America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law,” Pompeo emphasized.