Australian policy experts are deeply concerned about the current tensions in the East Sea, following China’s illegal placement of its oil rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

Director of the Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, Hoang Anh Tuan, on May 28 held a working session with experts from the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and the Lowy Institute for International Policy to discuss the issue.

The Vietnamese official outlined the developments in the sea after China illegally moved the rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 and deployed a number of military vessels and escorting aircraft in Vietnam ’s exclusive economic zone.

He highlighted these acts as violations of Vietnam ’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its legal exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

Such behaviour has also seriously infringed the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982) and run counter to the spirit of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), to which Beijing is a signatory, and the agreements reached by leaders of the two countries.

Tuan went on to say that the aggressive acts of Chinese vessels have threatened peace, stability, freedom and security of navigation in the region, and undermined the friendship between Vietnamese and Chinese people.

During the function, Australian policy experts talked about the motivation of China when illegally placing the rig in the sea.

They also highlighted ASEAN’s viewpoints in the issue, along with the US re-balance policy in Asia, China’s attempts to increase its influence, and Vietnam’s strategic steps to settle the East Sea issue.

Former Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill expressed his deep concern over the escalating tensions in the East Sea, and confirmed that Australia will support Vietnam to seek a peaceful solution to the issue.

At the beginning of May 2014, China illegally dispatched the rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 and a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft to Vietnam ’s waters and positioned the rig 80 miles deep inside Vietnam ’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

On May 27, China moved the rig to 15 degrees 33 minutes 22 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 36 seconds east longitude. The new location is 25 nautical miles from Tri Ton Island in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa archipelago and 23 nautical miles east-northeast from the old location, still completely within Vietnam’s continental shelf. With the move, China has kept on violating Vietnam ’s sovereign right and jurisdiction.-VNA