Vietnamese Ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh (C) speaks at the workshop (Source: VNA)
New Delhi (VNA) – Vietnam has respected rights of countries in the East Sea, including overflight and navigation freedom and trade without restriction, in line with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS), said Vietnamese Ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh.

In his speech at a workshop hosted by the working group of alternative strategies (WGAS) in New Delhi on December 1, Thanh assured that Vietnam has sovereign right and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone in the East Sea, and asked other countries to respect these in accordance with the UNCLOS.

Regarding territorial disputes in the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, the diplomat said Vietnam has full legal basis and historical evidence to attest its sovereignty over the archipelagos.

He also highlighted Vietnam’s consistent stance of solving disputes in the East Sea by peaceful measures, and in line with international law, including the UNCLOS 1982, adding that parties involved should exercise self-restraint, not use force or threaten to use force, avoid unilateral action and militarisation when addressing disputes.

Parties should strictly abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), towards avoiding complicating the situation further, he stressed.

He also urged China and ASEAN to soon finalise a Code of Conduct (COC) in the waters, while calling for countries’ greater efforts to maintain peace, stability and the law of the sea and ocean.

The recent ruling issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, the Netherlands, on the Philippines’s lawsuit against China’s claims in the waters, is a turning-point to form a new legal background in the East Sea and it contributes to downsizing disputes in the sea, Thanh affirmed.

Indonesian envoy to India Dalton Sembiring stated that his country does not acknowledge China’s “historic right” over the so-called “nine-dash line” in the East Sea, saying that that declaration had no legal value and was contrary to the UNCLOS 1982, especially regulations relating to maritime environmental protection.
 
Indonesia supports the settlement of East Sea disputes by peaceful measures, and calls all involved countries to obey international law, especially the UNCLOS 1982, he said.

He also affirmed Indonesia’s stance for the PCA ruling, and asked countries having sovereignty claims in the East Sea to continue taking peaceful measures for their claims in line with international law.

Meanwhile, political affairs counsellor of the Japanese Embassy in India, Hideki Asari highlighted the strategic and economic importance of the East Sea.

All countries should abide by international law, he said, adding that China is bound by the PCA ruling because it is a member of the UNCLOS 1982.

In his speech, Srikanth Kondapalli from the Centre for East Asia Studies under India’s JNU University also stressed the importance of the PCA ruling, and expressed his concern about the enforcement of the judgement as China still intensified its militarisation in the East Sea.

Southeast Asian countries, especially Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore ought to work closely to promote peace and stability in the region.

The workshop heard over 100 reports and speeches, which focused on analysing and evaluating the situation in the East Sea, and impacts of relevant sovereignty disputes in the region.

Participants said the PCA ruling is a historical declaration as it rejected China’s sovereignty and “nine-dash-line” claims in the East Sea, calling on involved parties to strictly respect the PCA’s judgement and enhance cooperation to promote peace, satiability and prosperity in the region.-VNA