Vietnam strongly opposes China’s proclamation of features in South China Sea

The Hanoitimes - Hanoi said Beijing's promulgation of geographical features is totally illegal.

Hanoi has strongly opposed Beijing’s promulgation of the so-called “standard” names for 80 entities in the South China Sea, including those within Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands.

Vietnam firmly protests all activities that do harm to its sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands, and to its sovereign rights and jurisdiction rights over Vietnamese waters, Deputy Spokesperson of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ngo Toan Thang said at a regular press conference on April 23.

Such activities are totally illegal, he stressed.

“As stated in multiple occasions, Vietnam has full historical evidence and legal basis to claim sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly islands in accordance with international law, and claim sovereign rights and jurisdiction rights over waters in the South China Sea as established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982,” Thang stated.

On April 19, Beijing marked out 25 islands, shoals, and reefs, and 55 underwater locations in the South China Sea that partly covers Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes, Chinese media reported.

Naming geographical features is part of China’s activities to cement its territorial claims in the face of increasing opposition from Vietnam and no recognization of the international community.

The statement came a day after China announced it had set up the so-called two administrative districts namely Xisha and Nansha to govern Paracels and Spratlys.

On April 19, Spokesperson of Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement that Vietnam firmly protests the establishment of the two districts and “demands China respect Vietnamese sovereignty, abolish its wrongful decisions related to the moves and ensure no recurrence in the future.”

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Mike Pompeo Accuses China of Pushing Territorial Ambitions Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Pompeo accuse china(BANGKOK) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told his Southeast Asian counterparts on Thursday that China is taking advantage of the world’s preoccupation with the coronavirus pandemic to push its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea.

Pompeo made the accusation in a meeting via video to discuss the outbreak with the foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Beijing’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea conflict with those of ASEAN members Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, and are contested by Washington, which has an active naval presence in the Pacific.

“Beijing has moved to take advantage of the distraction, from China’s new unilateral announcement of administrative districts over disputed islands and maritime areas in the South China Sea, its sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel earlier this month, and its ‘research stations’ on Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef,” Pompeo said.

Australia joins U.S. ships in South China Sea amid rising tension

Aus Join US SCSKUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - An Australian frigate has joined three U.S. warships in the South China Sea near an area where a Chinese vessel is suspected to be exploring for oil, near waters also claimed by Vietnam and Malaysia, officials said on Wednesday.

The warships arrived this week close to where the Chinese government survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 has been operating, which is in turn near where a vessel operated by Malaysia’s Petronas state oil company is conducting exploratory drilling, regional security sources have said.

The U.S. navy said on Tuesday the USS America amphibious assault ship and the USS Bunker Hill, a guided missile cruiser, were operating in the South China Sea.

They were joined by Australia’s frigate HMAS Parramatta and a third U.S. vessel, the destroyer USS Barry, as part of a joint exercise, the Australian defence department said.

Mike Pompeo Accuses China of Pushing Territorial Ambitions Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Beijing move toBeijing has moved to tighten its grip over the South China Sea by setting up new administrative structures in the disputed waters.

The two new districts will be under the authority of the local government in Sansha, a city in the southern island of Hainan.

The new districts will govern the Paracels and Macclesfield Bank – an area claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan – as well as the Spratly Islands and their adjacent waters, where there are multiple overlapping claims.

Over the past six years China has sought to expand its control over the South China Sea by building artificial islands and facilities that can be used for military purposes.

USS America Now Steaming Near South China Sea Standoff

USS 2KUALA LUMPUR — USS America (LHA-6) is steaming towards waters in the South China Sea where a Chinese government survey ship and its China Coast Guard escorts are in an international maritime dispute with Malaysia.

As of Saturday, America was operating with at least five Marine F-35B Lightning II fighters as well as MV-22Bs tiltrotors and CH-53 helicopters as part of the typical Marine air combat element configuration aboard the amphibious warship. With the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) temporarily sidelined in Guam, America is currently the most significant operational naval asset the U.S Navy has in the region as China flexes its maritime presence.

The Chinese are operating in disputed waters about 200 nautical miles off the coast of East Malaysia that are claimed by Malaysia, Vietnam and China. The region is believed to be mineral-rich and has been an active area of contention since the drillship West Capella, under contract to Malaysia’s state oil company, Petronas, began exploration activities in October.

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Vietnam protests Beijing's expansion in disputed South China Sea

VN protestChina has bolstered its presence in the South China Sea by setting up two administrative bodies on islands in the disputed water, dubbed "its youngest city".

Key points:

China says it has established an administrative district on two islands

The two districts are under the control of China's Sansha city

The US has called on China to stop its "bullying behaviour" in the region

Beijing claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, directly challenging the territorial claims of its neighbours — the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and Malaysia.

China has recently been pushing its presence in the energy-rich waters while other claimants are pre-occupied with tackling the coronavirus pandemic, prompting the United States to call on China to stop its "bullying behaviour" there.

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A survey of marine research vessels in the Indo-Pacific

SurveyMarine research vessels have been making waves in the Indo-Pacific recently. This is especially true of China’s large fleet. State-owned Chinese vessels have engaged in oil and gas surveys on the continental shelves of its neighbors, as the Haiyang Dizhi 8 did off the coast of Vietnam for four months last year. Others have conducted marine scientific research without the permission of coastal states. This was the case with the Shiyan 1, which India expelled from its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in September 2019, and the Zhang Jian, whose operations in the Philippine EEZ last summer drove President Rodrigo Duterte to hastily declare a ban on all foreign research vessels in his country’s waters.

Such research can serve both civilian and military purposes. Oceanographic data is crucial for undersea operations, as water and seabed conditions affect the ability to detect submarines. Research vessels purportedly involved in scientific research can also use their instruments for naval reconnaissance, gathering intelligence on foreign military facilities and vessels. Australian defense officials reportedly described an early 2020 survey by China’s Xiang Yang Hong 01 near Christmas Island as intended to study the routes of Australian submarines traveling to and from the South China Sea.

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The South China Sea in 2020: What to Watch

the scs in 2020While the global coronavirus pandemic continues to dominate the headlines, Asia’s flashpoints continue to simmer. The South China Sea is no exception, as evidenced by recent developments including China-Vietnam tensions. To get a sense of these developments and more, The Diplomat’s Prashanth Parameswaran talked to Greg Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

As of late last year, some of the key developments to watch with respect to the South China Sea in 2020 had become clear, including Vietnam’s occupation of the ASEAN chair and continued tensions in the U.S.-China relationship. How have the events we have seen thus far in 2020, including the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, affected your expectations for the South China Sea this year in terms of both continuity and change?

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Why Philippine Solidarity With Vietnam in South China Sea Fishing Row Matters

Why plp standsThe South China Sea flashpoint continues to spark trouble among claimants despite a spiraling pandemic. Early this month, the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat by a Chinese coast guard vessel off the disputed Paracel Islands led the Philippines to issue a statement of concern and solidarity with its Southeast Asian neighbor. The statement released by the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs is informed by Manila’s own exercise of utmost restraint in dealing with foreign fishermen and its desire to downplay and manage fishing incidents.

The coronavirus scuttled Vietnam’s chance to place the South China Sea as a key agenda item under its ASEAN chairmanship this year. This would have given Hanoi leverage to apply pressure on Beijing over the latter’s interference in Vietnamese fishing and oil and gas activities in the contested sea. But with many events getting postponed, cancelled, or migrating online and focus shifting toward pandemic response, the territorial and maritime row may likely take a backseat. This said, the recent fishing incident and sharp reaction it elicited showed the continued undercurrent of tensions among disputants amid calls for greater cooperation in the fight against COVID-19.

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The Belt and Road After COVID-19

Aftercovid19The COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly looking like a watershed, one of those moments in history that mark the end of an era and usher in a new one. The world is poised to change dramatically as a result of the novel coronavirus and many of the assumptions that seem plausible today may have to be revisited a few months down the road. Everything will depend on the severity of the coming socioeconomic shock and the resilience of the world order.

While it is too early for authoritative forecasts, three scenarios are possible at this stage. The best case envisages a moderate economic disturbance, which can hopefully be dealt with by the existing world order and through the mobilization of existing financial tools. A much more likely scenario, which qualifies as bad, foresees severe economic damage necessitating a massive demand for reconstruction, even if it cannot be met through available resources and by the shaky global institutional architecture. The worst-case scenario will be really ugly: it includes a devastating economic collapse of potentially historic proportions, leading to social and political turmoil in a number of countries, a sea change as to configuration of the world order, and curtailed connectivity.

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