HO CHI MINH: Vietnam has accused Beijing of direct encroachment on the disputed Nansha Islands at the South China Sea due to its frequent guarding in the guise of conducting marine reserves research.
But China’s Foreign Ministry reiterated that China has sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Nansha Islands and adjacent waters nearing Vanguard Bank, thus rejecting Vietnam’s repeated claims that China’s research in the area has infringed on its sovereignty.
The operation of the Chinese side in its jurisdiction in the South China Sea is legal, reasonable and beyond reproach, Geng Shuang, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a routine press conference on Wednesday.
Geng said the Vietnamese side should immediately stop the unilateral infringement activities and restore harmony and tranquility to the relevant sea areas.
Since May, Vietnam has unilaterally conducted drilling activities for oil and gas in waters under China’s jurisdiction in the South China Sea, which seriously infringes on China’s interests and violates bilateral agreements between China and Vietnam as well as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
Geng said China would like to work with the Vietnamese side to deal with related issues through friendly negotiations.
Geng’s remarks came after a spokesman for the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry said Vietnam resolutely opposes Chinese scientific research ship Haiyang Dizhi 8’s continued violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty rights and jurisdiction in territorial waters as defined in the Unclos.
The spokesperson also said that acts that hinder Vietnam’s oil and gas activities in its territorial waters are violating international law.
The South China Sea is the center of disputes involving China and several countries primarily Brunei, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
An estimated $3.37 trillion worth of global trade passes through the South China Sea annually, which accounts for a third of the global maritime trade. Eighty percent of China´s energy imports and 39.5 percent of China´s total trade passes through the South China Sea.
The disputes include the islands, reefs, banks and other features of the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Scarborough Shoal and various boundaries in the Gulf of Tonkin.
There are further disputes, including the waters near the Indonesian Natuna Islands, which many do not regard as part of the South China Sea. Claimant states are interested in retaining or acquiring the rights to fishing stocks, the exploration and potential exploitation of crude oil and natural gas in the seabed of various parts of the South China Sea, and the strategic control of important shipping lanes.