East Sea workshop warns against global crisis

(VOV) - Scholars attending a workshop in Washington DC on June 3 raised their concern about increased tensions in the East Sea which they said could lead to a global crisis.

They made an in-depth analysis of China’s sovereign ambition in the East Sea, referring to its groundless ‘nine-dash line’ that covers almost 80% of the sea’s area.

Hoang Anh Tuan, director of the Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies under the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, stated that the ‘nine-dash line’ is the root cause of recent East Sea tensions.

In a move running counter to international law, China on May 1 unilaterally positioned its drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

It even dispatched vessels, including military ships, and aircraft to escort the rig, intimidating Vietnam’s law enforcement forces at sea. These vessels have constantly rammed Vietnamese boats, injuring sailors and damaging their property.

China’s ‘nine-dash line’ has no legal foundations and an unclear geographical position, Anh confirmed, adding there are different views about this line in China itself.

He called upon the international community to ask China to make its claim explicit or warned tensions would not be eased.

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A Chinese ship using water cannons to fire at a Vietnamese boat near the oil rig

Professor PhD in Political Science Aileen Baviera from the University of the Philippines rebuked China’s unilateral move with support of civil, paramilitary and armed forces, in an attempt to realise its sovereign ambition in the East Sea.

Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the US, said parties concerned have yet to clarify the nature of territorial disputes in the region, and or hold talks on measures to settle the dispute peacefully that could spark off a global crisis.

In his opinion, China negates or intentionally misunderstands international law when claiming its sovereignty based on its own historical right. He raised questions about China’s legal evidence to clarify its claim, as well as the role of international law and mechanisms for settling these disputes.

In an interview granted to Vietnam News Agency, Tuan described China’s oil rig placement in Vietnam’s territorial waters as an act of incursion, violating international law and the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC).

Chinese ships have provocatively rammed Vietnamese boats over the past weeks and it is unlikely that China would withdraw its oil rig before August 15 as scheduled.

Vietnam is taking every measure to resolve the case peacefully, and filing a lawsuit against China in an international arbitration court is an option.

Scholars stressed the important role of ASEAN and support from global powers, including the US, in consolidating the consensus and the grouping’s mechanisms to help resolve the dispute.

They hailed a statement released by ASEAN Foreign Ministers at a recent meeting in Myanmar, in which they voiced their deep concern about East Sea tensions and said dispute settlement must be based on international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention n the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other relevant agreements between ASEAN and China.  

The scholars underlined the need to soon conclude negotiations of a code of conduct (COC) in the East Sea and develop a mechanism to ensure the legally binding document is implemented effectively.

They said Chinese media should have an objective and fair view on the issue and better perform its role in orienting the public regarding the settlement of the dispute.