Tuesday, March 2, 2021

US warships in South China Sea, Vietnam appeals for peace


Vietnam has called for all parties to maintain peace in the South China Sea following recent presence of US warships near its Paracel and Spratly archipelagos to challenge Beijing’s claims.

Vietnam hopes all countries will continue contributing positively to maintaining peace and stability on the basis of international law in the East Sea, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said at a press meet Thursday.

In Vietnam, the South China Sea is called the East Sea.

Hang said maintaining peace, stability, order, security, safety, freedom of navigation and overflight, obeying the law, respecting sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction of countries along the East Sea in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) should be the common goal, interest, responsibility and aspiration of all concerned states as well as the international community.

"The activities of all countries in the East Sea need to contribute to this common goal. As a responsible member of the international community and a member of UNCLOS, Vietnam abides by the convention's provisions, including regulations relating to maritime and aviation operations in the sea area that have been set up in accordance with the convention," she added.

The destroyer USS John S. McCain on February 5 sailed near Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands in the East Sea in a freedom of navigation operation, marking the first such mission under President Joe Biden’s new administration.

On February 17, U.S. destroyer USS Russell conducted another freedom of navigation operation, sailing near Vietnam's Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands.

Washington has denounced what it calls Beijing’s attempts to bully neighbors with competing interests; and China has similarly denounced what it calls U.S. efforts to foment unrest in the region and interfere in what it regards as its internal affairs.

The recent actions suggest that the Biden administration is not about to scale back operations challenging Beijing’s claims after the ramp-up seen during the Trump administration, analysts have noted.

China seized the Paracel Islands from South Vietnam by force in 1974, and has been illegally occupying a number of reefs in the Spratly Islands since 1988.

Vietnam has repeatedly affirmed that it has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly islands in the South China Sea in accordance with international law.



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