Chinese military actions in East Sea face international criticism
Updated : Friday, May 25, 2018 1:31 PM (GMT+0700)

Chinesebombers’ landing and take-off drills on an airfield in Hoang Sa (Paracel)archipelago, which belongs to Vietnam but is occupied by China, are causingdeep concerns and facing strong opposition from many countries regionally andglobally.

An aerial photo of an illegal airfield that China built on Fiery Cross Reef of Vietnam's
Truong Sa archipelago - Photo: AFP

After an array of activitiesto illegally reclaim and construct military facilities and bases in the EastSea and the deployment of weapons on artificial islands that were illegallybuilt in Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago, China’s latest move in Hoang Sa hasevidenced the country’s continued acceleration of militarising the East Searegardless of international opposition.

Japanese Defence MinisterItsunori Onodera said this is the next step of China to unilaterally change thestatus quo in the East Sea. Meanwhile, spokesman of the US Pentagon ChristopherLogan said China’s continued militarisation only serves to raise tensions anddestabilise the region.

At the ongoing G20foreign ministers’ meeting in Buenos Aires of Argentina, Australian ForeignMinister Julie Bishop raised her country’s concerns about China’smilitarisation in the East Sea.

Philippine presidentialspokesman Harry Roque also expressed serious concerns on the move’s impact onefforts to maintain peace and stability in the region.

This is not the first timeChina’s unilateral military moves have encountered international criticism.

In early May 2018, inresponse to the Chinese missile deployment in the structures that it builtillegally in Vietnam’s Truong Sa archipelago, the US warned about near-term andlong-term consequences, noting that China cannot and should not have a hostileattitude in the East Sea.

Chief of the US PacificCommand Admiral Philip Davidson, who took office on May 18, said China’sactions affirm its intention to control the East Sea.

Echoing the view, GregoryPoling, a fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, saidChina is crossing an important threshold. The missile deployment is a clearthreat to other claimants and furthers China’s goal of establishing completecontrol over the water and airspace of the East Sea.

China’s deployment ofweapons in the structures it illegally built in the East Sea and itslarge-scale military moves in the waters clearly run counter to commitments thecountry made not to militarise the East Sea.

This is also contrary to theDeclaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), signed by Chinaand the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in2002, which requires the countries to maintain the status quo and notcomplicate the East Sea situation.

Moreover, China made thesemoves when it and the ASEAN countries reached an important common perception intogether building a Code of Conduct (COC) of parties in the East Sea towards atransparent and rule-based regional architecture and an East Sea of peace andstability.

The Chinese moves undermineand hamper negotiation efforts to finalise the COC, which aims to createprerequisites for the settlement of East Sea disputes and maintain peace,stability, security and safety of navigation in the region.

China’s deployment ofbombers and missiles in the East Sea has run counter to international law andseriously violated Vietnam’s sovereignty, in both legal and historical aspects,over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagoes.

Those activities haveaffected the friendship and comprehensive strategic cooperative partnershipbetween Vietnam and China. They have also breached the two countries’ agreementon basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues as well as thecommon perception shared between the countries’ leaders to solve obstacles inthe East Sea issue. The two sides previously agreed to continue implementingthe DOC in a comprehensive and effective manner, soon build the COC, controlsea-related disagreements well and not take actions complicating the situation.

China’s sending of weaponsto illegal structures in Hoang Sa and Truong Sa only raises tensions andblights trust among parties involved in the East Sea issue.

As a big country with animportant role in the international arena, China has the responsibility toadjust its behaviour in the East Sea on the basis of international law, end allunilateral actions complicating the situation, show a constructive attitude andcontribute to the maintenance of peace, stability, friendship and cooperationin the region.


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