Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh on Wednesday expressed his grave concern over Chinese vessels’ illegal movements in the East Vietnam Sea at a meeting in Thailand between foreign ministers of Southeast Asian nations and China.
While attending the ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in the framework of the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-52) in Bangkok, Minh stressed that the Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 and its escorts’ recent activities in the waters are a violation of Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf.
The Chinese vessels have, since July 3, blatantly disrupted and interfered with Vietnam’s economic activities through illegal actions in the areas near the Tu Chinh – Vung May (Vanguard Bank – Rifleman Bank) region in the East Vietnam Sea, according to updates on Twitter by Prof. Ryan Martison from the U.S. Naval War College.
Hanoi has made repeated demands that Beijing withdraw its ships from the Vietnamese waters.
Minh stressed to those in attendance at the meeting on Wednesday, in the presence of China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, that such actions seriously threaten the legitimate rights of coastal countries, erode trust, and worsen tension, thus hurting peace and stability in the Southeast Asian region.
More seriously, the actions follow on the heels of large-scale land reclamation activities and militarization of disputed maritime entities in the East Vietnam Sea.
Minh noted progress in negotiations for a code of conduct (COC) of parties in the East Vietnam Sea while reiterating ASEAN’s consistent stance on the importance of enhancing confidence, non-militarization, preventing actions that complicate the situation, and upholding international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in order to achieve an effective COC.
Highlighting the strategic significance of ASEAN-China relations, Minh affirmed that Vietnam will join hands with other ASEAN member states to promote the partnership and collaboration between the sides, especially in the fields of mutual interest.