The recent developments in the East Sea was one of the topics for discussion at a meeting between ambassadors from the Asia-Pacific region in Belgium on June 17.

The regular event was chaired by the Vietnamese Embassy to update participants with the latest information on the regional situation and discuss measures for wider multilateral cooperation.

Vietnamese Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau briefed the diplomats on the fresh developments relating to China’s illegal placement of the drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou - 981 in Vietnam’s continental shelf, which has gone against the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea that China signed with ASEAN.

Ambassadors expressed their deep concerns over the tension in the East Sea and hoped all parties concerned will settle the disputes though peaceful means in line with international law, to ensure security and safety of navigation in the region.

Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders said he hopes both sides will pursue negotiations to seek the optimal solutions to the issue.

Since early May, China has illegally operated the rig and a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft in Vietnam’s waters.

Despite Vietnam’s protests, China has expanded its scale of operation and recently moved the rig to 15 degrees 33 minutes 36 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 11 seconds east longitude, which is 60 nautical miles deep inside Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

According to the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance force, China on June 17 maintained 136 ships, including five battleships, surrounding the rig. They kept on circling and standing ready to ram Vietnamese vessels, while approaching them as close as 30 metres.-VNA