China has been pursuing what is known as 'salami slicing' strategy to occupy bit by bit the East Sea, an Indian professor has said.

According to Professor G. Vijayachandra Naidu, lecturer at the Centre for Indo-Pacific Studies under the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, the strategy began in 1974 when it first grabbed Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.

Since then, China has been occupying bit by bit the East Sea, which is not only geostrategically a pivotal area in the region but also known to possess vast natural resources, especially energy, he said.

China has managed to occupy most parts of the East Sea over the past 40 years, but still claiming the so-called nine-dot line, which is extremely vague and ambiguous, he added.

“The present incident of Chinese ships ramming Vietnamese boats clearly in the territorial waters of Vietnam by indulging in oil exploration activities is serious,” Naidu noted, adding that the next move might be that with the pretext of defending its interests, China might even station naval warships.

The professor said it is essential that ASEAN takes a firm position unless China stops all these kinds of activities of forcibly occupying the islands bit by bit.

Vietnam in particular should hold meetings and consultations with political leaders and experts to raise the awareness and also to bring to the fore the facts of the dispute and to mobilise the support across all sections, he advised.-VNA