Australia, Singapore and organisations based in Mongolia and the UK have expressed their deep concern over China’s illegal dispatch of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou- 981 and ships to Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

In its statement on May 14, the Australian Ministry for Foreign Affairs called on all parties concerned to restrain provocative acts, seek approaches to easing tension and conform to international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

It also urged China and the ASEAN member nations to reach a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) as soon as possible.

Earlier on May 12, visiting Singaporean Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam assured reporters at a press briefing in Washington that ASEAN does not want tension, but progress made on a code of conduct.

According to Singapore newspapers, Shanmugam and his US counterpart John Kerry have called for swifter progress in crafting the COC, and for the peaceful settlement of territorial disputes between China and several ASEAN countries.

The Mongolia – Vietnam Friendship Society, meanwhile, voiced concern that China’s escalating acts have posed a threat to regional security and raised alarm among its neighbours.

In another move, the Vietnam – UK Network urged the parties to settle disputes through dialogue and other peaceful means in the spirit of friendship and cooperation, in accordance with international law, in particular the UNCLOS and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea.

On May 2, China stationed the rig at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude. The location is 80 nautical miles inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.

China has so far deployed 86 vessels of various kinds to the area, including military, coast guard, marine surveillance, marine patrol and fishing ships.

The provocative acts by China, including the ramming and firing of water cannons into Vietnamese coast guard ships during their law enforcement missions in the country’s waters, have left many Vietnamese ships damaged and nine fisheries surveillance officers injured.-VNA