On, November 18, 2021, speaking at the opening of an international scientific conference on the South China Sea (Vietnam calls it the East Sea) in Hanoi, which lasted for 2 days, Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Hieu highlighted Vietnam’s concern about persistent tension in the region and actions contrary to the United Nations Law of the Sea.
According to Vietnam’s state-controlled media, this year’s 13th international conference – jointly organized by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam and its partners – gathered more than 180 delegates to participate directly, along with more than 400 other delegates online. Among these, about 60 speakers are experts from 30 countries.
In his welcome speech to the conference, Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Hieu said that developments in the East Sea over the past year have raised many concerns about the risk of accelerating an “arms race” and “unintentional collision incidents.”
According to the representative of the Vietnamese government, in the past time, “there are still many national laws or activities that are inconsistent or contrary to UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea)” while “rights and interests the legitimate interests of coastal states have not been fully respected.”
Although the Vietnamese deputy minister did not name China, according to observers, the author of “inconsistent or contrary to UNCLOS laws or activities” is China. Over the past year, Beijing has not stopped sending ships to harass neighbors from Vietnam to Malaysia and the Philippines right in their exclusive economic zones, which are regulated by the UNCLOS.
In terms of legislation, the most obvious example is Beijing’s promulgation of a new maritime law, which imposes China’s rights over almost the entire South China Sea, despite China’s sovereignty claims, since 2016, has been ruled by an arbitration court within the framework of the UNCLOSUNCLOS as having no legal basis.
China’s actions in the South China Sea, especially using its maritime militia to assert Beijing’s sovereignty claims, were once again exposed in a study published yesterday.
In a study titled “Pulling Back the Curtain on China’s Maritime Militia,” Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has highlighted the fact that at one point, up to 300 ships of China’s maritime militia patrolled in Spratlys in the South China Sea to enforce Beijing’s controversial sovereignty claims.
The report states that the fact that the Chinese state has funded this force, which is also a dual-use force, which can both fish and fight, allowing Beijing to deny its belligerent intentions when accused.