The ambassadors of ASEAN countries to South Africa voiced their worry over recent tensions in the East Sea at a meeting in the capital Pretoria on May 13.

At the function, Vietnamese Ambassador Le Huy Hoang – incumbent Chair of the ASEAN Pretoria Committee – updated the diplomats on the latest developments regarding China’s illegal placement of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou – 981 in waters of Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.

He said China’s act seriously violates international law, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS) as well as the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, to which China itself is a signatory.

Hoang noted that Vietnam hopes the ASEAN countries and the international community continue to support the nation’s legitimate requirements and oppose China’s violation.

The ambassador stressed that Vietnam pursues all peaceful measures in accordance with the United Nations Charter to solve disputes and safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.

At the meeting, the diplomats agreed that the bloc’s members need to bolster their solidarity and determination to ensure peace, stability, safety and maritime freedom in the East Sea, and consider this as one of the focal points in the building of an ASEAN Community.

Responding to queries from Vietnam News Agency reporters, Philippine Ambassador Constancio R.Vingno said that China’s act has escalated tensions in the region, adding that East Sea disputes need to be settled peacefully through diplomatic channels and in line with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

China stationed the rig on May 2 at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude. The location is 80 nautical miles deep inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and 119 nautical miles to Vietnam’s Ly Son Island.

China has deployed 86 ships of various kinds to the area. They include military, coast guard, marine surveillance, marine patrol and fisheries ships backed by rescue, transport, refuelling and fishing ships.-VNA