Fiery Cross Reef (Source: VNA)
Jakarta (VNA) – Vietnamese Ambassador to Indonesia Hoang Anh Tuan penned an article recently published in the Jakarta Post that refutes the unconvincing arguments made by Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Xu Bu claiming China’s sovereignty over the East Sea.

Xu Bu’s arguments were written in his article “Maintaining peace and stability in the East Sea” that was also published in the Jakarta Post.

Tuan said “Having completed the construction and installation phase of developing artificial islands over the reefs and rocks it had illegally occupied in the Truong Sa (Spratly), on January 1 China began conducting test flights of civilian aircraft on Vietnam’s Chu Thap (Fiery Cross) Reef, underscoring Beijing’s intention to continue its occupation and domination of an area critical to Southeast Asian commerce and world trade, as well as navigation of the high seas”.

Worse still, from January 1-8, China conducted 46 flights in the Ho Chi Minh City Flight Information Region (FIR) managed and controlled by Vietnam.

“This violates not only Vietnam’s sovereignty, but also regulations such as the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and its annexes concerning rules of the air, especially Annex 2 and Annex 11, thus threatening the safety of international flights over this area, and driving home the extent to which China is prepared to turn its back on such international agreements”.

Clearly, China’s actions contravene its statement that the construction of artificial islands in the East Sea does not affect the freedom and safety of navigation and overflight in the East Sea, and that peace and stability in the area is still guaranteed, he said.

The article also pointed out that China’s construction and reinforcement of the artificial islands in the Truong Sa goes against the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), which focuses on maintaining the status quo and discouraging acts that might further complicate the situation.

The ambassador went on to list some c oncrete deeds that will help untangle the challenges that the East Sea represents to peace and stability in ASEAN.

First, China needs to stop all construction work aimed at creating artificial islands and China must cease acts that alter the status quo and militarise the East Sea.

China should commit to the maintenance of the status quo, and quickly terminate the construction of an airport on Chu Thap Reef, since this threatens the sovereignty of Vietnam, peace and stability in the region, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea.

China should fully implement the DOC, reach an agreement with ASEAN on the Code of Conduct in the East Sea at the earliest opportunity and in a constructive manner, and commit to resolving disputes on the basis of international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

These are three initial but essential steps that will go a long way toward assuring peace, stability and security for the Southeast Asian region, which of course would serve the long-term interests of China as well, he concluded.-VNA