Pierre Grega, the Chairman of the Belgium-Vietnam Friendship Association, recently made the statement amid China increasing the rate of their unilateral actions in the East Sea.
Grega cited the northern neighbour’s recent actions that have served to greatly complicate the situation in the East Sea, including a Chinese marine surveillance ship sinking a Vietnamese fishing vessel near the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago. Other actions include sending Haiyan Dizhi 8 into exclusive economic zones of both Vietnam and Malaysia, in addition to declaring the establishment of “Xisha District” and “Nansha District” on Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) islands, which China states are now part of "Sansha City".
He emphasised that these unilateral actions are opposed to the fundamental principles which guide the settlement of maritime issues, as well as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea signed in 2002 between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China. Moreover, these various incidents have also complicated the situation in the East Sea in a detrimental way, causing harm to the negotiation process between China and ASEAN member states as they seek to achieve a Code of Conduct in the East Sea.
In the face of these Chinese actions, the Belgium-Vietnam Friendship Association has suggested that local fishermen should conduct safe fishing activities within the country's territorial waters. The nation wishes to deal with tensions in the East Sea within the framework of international law, most notably the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS).