China’s naval drills in South China Sea spark fresh Hanoi condemnation

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Aug 26 (efe-epa).- Vietnam on Wednesday reiterated its condemnation of a fresh round of Chinese military drills in disputed territory in the South China Sea.

Le Thi Thu Hang, the spokesman for the Vietnamese foreign ministry, emphasized a message he previously delivered to the press on 20 August, saying Beijing was putting peace in the hotly contested region at risk.

“The repeated Chinese military maneuvers around the Paracel Islands are a violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty,” he said.

“They complicate the situation and do not facilitate ongoing negotiations between China and ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), of which Vietnam is a member,” he added.

Hanoi’s protest was triggered by ongoing Chinese naval drills around the Paracel Islands, which included live fire simulations. They got underway on Monday and are due to conclude on Friday, according to local outlet Vietnam News.

It is the second time in recent weeks that Vietnam has spoken against military drills in the region, the previous occasion coming in response to the deployment of Chinese aircraft carriers around the Paracel Islands, part of which are claimed by Hanoi.

China claims sovereignty over almost the entirety of the South China Sea, a strategically important maritime region through which some 30 percent of global trade transits. It is also home to around 12 percent of the world’s fishing grounds.

However, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim territory and maritime borders in the region.

In recent months Chinese navy vessels have carried out incursions into Vietnamese and Filipino waters, which has served to escalate tensions between China and its neighbors, as well as the United States.

A Hague tribunal in 2016 ruled in favor of the Philippines’ claim to parts of the South China Sea, including the Scarborough Shoal and parts of the Spratly Islands. Beijing has refused to accept the ruling.

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