|Indonesian journalist Veeramalla Anjaiah
In an article on Indonesia’s news and analysis site Eurasia Review, veteran journalist Veeramalla Anjaiah said a Chinese survey ship, escorted by armed maritime vessels, has illegally encroached on Vietnam’s legal exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The world community must put pressure on China to withdraw immediately its survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 and other vessels from the Vanguard Bank to reduce tensions, said Anjaiah.
“In a violation of the rules of the UN Convention on the law of the Sea (UNCLOS), China claims more than 90 percent of the East Sea based on its controversial nine-dash line, which refers to an undefined, vaguely located demarcation line. Its claim is also based on so-called ‘historical rights’ not stated in international maritime rules," Anjaiah tod VOV.
"All of China’s claims based on the nine-dash line and historical rights were rejected by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in a 2016 ruling. But Beijing ignored this and went on to enforce its claim, through unilateral, illegal and coercive actions. China is a signatory to UNCLOS but does not want to implement it,” he noted.
Anjaiah said China has illegally built artificial islands through reclamation and constructed military facilities on them. It has tried to obstruct fishing activities and the exploitation of natural resources of other claimant states in their legally entitled territories. The latest incident, which occurred in the Vanguard Bank, clearly explains the nature of China’s actions, he said. The Vanguard, located in Vietnam’s EEZ, is less than 200 nautical miles from Vietnam’s coast and is 600 nautical miles away from China’s maritime border, according to Anjaiah.
He said a Chinese ship recently rammed and sank an anchored Filipino fishing boat in the Recto Bank, 160 kilometers off the Philippine island of Palawan. Hundreds of Chinese armed maritime vessels regularly and illegally operate in waters surrounding Pagasa Island (Thitu Island), which threatens the activities of local Filipino fishermen, Anjaiah said, adding that Manila has also issued a protest over the illegal passage of four Chinese warships and the aircraft carrier Liaoning through Philippine waters. In May 2019, Chinese coastguard vessels were patrolling around the Luconia Shoals, which lie within the EEZ of Malaysia. ASEAN should unite to prevent China’s illegal acts, he noted.
“There should be solidarity among ASEAN nations to build peace in the East Sea and ensure the enforcement of existing laws. We need an urgent legally binding Code of Conduct (COC) between ASEAN and China. The international community, particularly major countries like the US, Japan, the European Union, Australia, and India must put pressure on China to stop its illegal actions in the East Sea,” he suggested.
Anjaiah said a united ASEAN should be in the driving seat in all regional initiatives to maintain peace and stability in the region.