Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Oct 1 (efe-epa).- Vietnam on Thursday condemned China’s fresh military maneuvers near an archipelago disputed between the two countries, and warned Beijing that it would undermine negotiations for a maritime code of conduct in the South China Sea.
“We ask China to respect Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa archipelago (Vietnamese name for the Paracel Islands), to stop and not to repeat such activities,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said at a press conference in Hanoi.
The protest by the Vietnamese government came in response to a series of five simultaneous military maneuvers launched on Monday by China, two of them in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands, which Vietnam considers part of its territory.
Hang said that it was a priority for Vietnam to resume negotiations, interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, for a Code of Conduct between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN) – of which Vietnam is a part -, according to the local newspaper Tuoi Tre.
Vietnam already protested twice in August over Chinese military maneuvers in South China Sea waters, especially for the deployment of an aircraft carrier near the disputed islands.
China’s territorial ambitions in the waters south of its land border – through which 30 percent of global trade passes and which is home to 12 percent of world’s fisheries, besides oil and gas deposits – not only affect Vietnam, but also the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
In recent months Beijing’s relations with these countries and with the United States have been strained due to incursions by Chinese navy vessels into the territorial waters of Vietnam and the Philippines.
In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled i favor of the Philippines in a sovereignty dispute with China over Scarborough Atoll and part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. However, Beijing has refused to recognize the ruling.
Vietnam and China share a land border of about 1,300 kilometers (808 miles) and their relations have been historically fraught with tensions.
Both countries fought a brief war in early 1979, when the Asian giant launched an invasion of northern Vietnam in retaliation for the latter’s invasion of Cambodia the previous year that ended the Khmer Rouge regime, an ally of the Chinese government. EFE-EPA