China’s placement of its drilling rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone is to realise its ambition to control the East Sea and Beijing needs to stop this unilateral act, according to Australian scholars.

“It was unexpected, provocative and illegal,” said Prof. Carlyle A. Thayer from the Australia Defence Force Academy . “It was unexpected because ever since October last year Premier Li Keqiang visited Vietnam , the relations moved into new positive directions in many areas. The relations were very good.”

The act was provocative because it is the first time China has placed a large oil rig in the exclusive economic zone of any country without permission, he said, adding it has deployed many escort ships (now more than one hundred) including armed warships.

And it was illegal because China is not basing its claims on international law, he noted.

Meanwhile, Prof. Ronald Clarke from the Sydney University said that China’s action shows a lack of respect for neighbouring countries and the best way for China is to collaborate with others rather than acting by itself.

China needs to move its rig from Vietnam’s waters and talk with Vietnam and other concerned countries to seek a solution to the East Sea issue, he stressed.-VNA