South China Sea: Vietnam appreciates India’s position

New Delhi, Aug 10 (IANS) Vietnam appreciates India’s position on the South China Sea dispute following the ruling last month by the Permanent Court of Administration (PCA) in the Hague in favour of the Philippines over China, Vietnamese Ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh said on Wednesday.

“We appreciate India’s role in the South China Sea issue,” Thanh said during an interaction with the media here.

“India recognised the authority of the Permanent Court of Arbitration under the Unclos (UN Convention on the Law of the Seas,” he said.

He said the most important thing was that India has requested respect by all parties for international laws and right to navigation.

The Ambassador’s comments come after a state-run English daily in China said on Tuesday that India’s focus on the South China Sea would harm its ties with China and create obstacles for Indian businessmen.

In an editorial, the Global Times said India should” avoid unnecessary entanglement” with China over the dispute of South China Sea during the upcoming visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to India.

An international arbitration tribunal in the PCA ruled on July 12 that China violated the Philippines’ rights in the South China Sea, one of the busiest commercial shipping routes in the world.

The court accused China of interfering with the Philippines’ fishing and petroleum exploration, building artificial islands in the waters and failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone.

The tribunal held that fishermen from the Philippines had traditional fishing rights in Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea and that China had interfered with these rights by restricting their access.

The court held that Chinese law enforcement vessels unlawfully created a serious risk of collision when they physically obstructed Philippine vessels in the region.

China is locked in disputes over the Spratly and Paracel groups of islands in the South China Sea with other countries of the region.

While the other claimants over the Spratly islands are Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, the Paracel islands are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

Thanh said that though the PCA ruling was a good development, the situation in the region was not quite stable yet.

He said that the PCA ruling has also made very clear the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Vietnam in the South China Sea.

“Along with other littoral nations of the South China Sea, Vietnam also has its own EEZ,” he said.

He said Vietnam expected all parties to comply with international laws and did not welcome militarisation in the region.

Asked if Vietnam would follow the Philippines and take legal recourse to resolve the dispute, he said that his country would prefer to resolve the dispute with China through bilateral talks but if this did not work out, other processes, including legal recourse, could not be ruled out.

“China is a big economy. We want to have good relations with China but we want our sovereignty protected,” Thanh said.

–IANS

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