A US ship (Source: Reuters)
Leaders from a number of countries in Asia-Pacific have raised their voices to affirm their countries’ respect for the right of aviation and navigation freedom in the East Sea.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his support for the US Navy Aegis Destroyer’s passage within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands built illegally by China in Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago. He was quoted by the Japan Times as saying that the action was based on international law.

Japan would co-operate with the international community to protect the free, open and peaceful sea, he said.

According to Singaporean media on October 29, during his separate meetings with the US Ambassador and Chinese Ambassador to Singapore, Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan reaffirmed that his country suppored aviation and navigation freedom in line with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS 1982).

The Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement called on all parties involved in the East Sea disputes to resolve differences calmly and peacefully in accordance with international law, including the UNCLOS, in order to maintain peace and stability in the region.

The US’s Wall Street Journal on October 28 said Australia was looking into the possibility of a naval sail-through close to artificial islands built unlawfully in the East Sea.

Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne stressed that her country had a legitimate interest in the maintenance of peace, stability, respect for international law, unimpeded trade, and freedom of navigation and aviation in the sea, affirming that Australian vessels and aircraft would continue to exercise their rights to navigation and aviation freedom in the area.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo also called on all parties in the East Sea dispute to exercise restraint, and urged China and ASEAN to start discussing a Code of Conduct (COC) to manage tensions there.

Previously, the AFP news agency on October 27 quoted a US defence official as saying that a US guided missile destroyer USS Lassen navigated within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands China is creating in the Truong Sa Archipelago.

This is seen as the first concrete move in the US's plan to conduct regular patrol activities in the East Sea, the agency said.

While replying to reporters’ queries on Vietnam’s response to US ships’ recent voyage near a number of geological structures of the Truong Sa (Spratly) islands of Vietnam, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Le Hai Binh said that as the State having sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracels) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos in the East Sea and a member of the UNCLOS 1982, Vietnam has continuously respected the freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea on basis of the relevant provisions of the convention and in accordance with the regulations of the coastal states, he affirmed.

Vietnam calls for parties involved to actively contribute to the maintenance of peace, stability, security and navigation and aviation safety in the East Sea in line with international law, including the UNCLOS 1982 and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), he said.-VNA