Nov 04, 2021 / 20:44

Vietnam demands China to withdraw from its waters

More than 150 Chinese vessels were visible in the northern half of Union Banks, which includes Vietnam’s Da Ba Dau (Whitsun Reef) in Spratlys.

Hanoi said today [Nov 4] that the Chinese vessel fleet violated Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly Islands) in the East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea) and demanded them withdraw from the waters.

 China's vessels in Vietnam's Da Ba Dau (Whitsun Reef): Image: CSIS/AMTI 

China needs to respect Vietnam’s sovereignty rights stipulated in accordance with international laws, Deputy Spokesperson Pham Thu Hang of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said at a press conference on Thursday following the gathering of 150 Chinese Maritime Militia-owned ships in Da Ba Dau (Whitsun Reef) in Sin Cowe Island.

“The deployment of Chinese ships within Truong Sa seriously violated Vietnam’s waters, infringing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982 and going against the Declaration on Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC),” Hang noted.

She stressed that Vietnam has ample historical and legal evidence to assert its sovereignty over Truong Sa and it resolutely takes measures to protect its legitimate and legitimate rights.

On October 22, the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said satellite imagery from Planet Labs from October 17 showed over 150 Chinese ships visible in the northern half of Union Banks, which includes Whitsun Reef. The figures rose from more than 100 boats by September and about 40 in early August.

ASEAN and partners share the same view on South China Sea issues

The South China Sea issues remain the focal point at the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summit held via videoconference on October 26-28. All 10 member states of the bloc and its partners shared a common stance on the sea, expressing concerns over unilateral activities that escalate tensions, ruin trust, and damage the marine environment.

ASEAN leaders reaffirmed the need to strengthen mutual trust and confidence building, at the same time not to complicate the situation while maintaining peace, stability, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the sea.

The countries emphasized their stance on settling disputes by peaceful means on the basis of international law, including UNCLOS.

They stressed the importance of effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the resumption of negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the South China East (COC) between ASEAN and China.

ASEAN partners, especially the US, India, Japan, South Korea, and Australia at the Summits and Related Summits expressed their concerns over the situation in the South China Sea, affirming to stand with the regional countries in the common drive that aims to keep a rules-based order.

The commitments became stronger at the 16th East Asia Summit (EAS) when all countries called for ASEAN and China to fully implement DOC and head towards substantive negotiations of COC.

Highlights of the ASEAN-partner summits on the South China Sea issues came from US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Japanese PM Fumio Kishida who emphasized the importance of free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific while welcoming ASEAN’s role in promoting the regional peace and stability.

“The Indo-Pacific is a dynamic region and by continuing to conduct routine operations with our allies and partners throughout international waters and airspace, we demonstrate our unwavering commitment to upholding international law, on the sea and in the air, and to ensuring that all nations can do the same without fear or contest,” according to US Navy.

“Our activities in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, which are important international maritime traffic routes, together with the navies of our allies and partners who share our fundamental values and strategic interests, demonstrate our unity and strong will to realize a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ based on law,” said Rear Adm. IKEUCHI Izuru, Commanding Officer of IPD21 force, Commander of Escort Flotilla 3, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

The South China Sea, which lies between China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, is of great economic importance globally. Nearly one-third of the world’s shipping passes through its lanes, and the waters house numerous important fisheries.