US President Barack Obama said his country is supporting Southeast Asian nations as they negotiate a code of conduct with China on maritime disputes in the South China Sea (which Vietnam calls the East Sea).

“We are working to resolve these disputes through international law,” Obama said in a speech at the West Point military academy on May 28.

He also said the US cannot try to resolve problems in the East Sea when it has refused to make sure that the Convention on the Law of the Sea is ratified by the US Senate.

The US President also said regional aggression that goes unchecked, whether in southern Ukraine or the East Sea, or anywhere else in the world, will ultimately impact the US allies and could draw in US military, adding that the US can't ignore what happens beyond its boundaries.

Analysts said with this speech, Obama has sent a strong message regarding the East Sea tension. Prof. Nguyen Manh Hung at the George Mason University was of the opinion that the US government has expressed a clear and strong viewpoint on this matter.

Sharing this opinion, Gregory Poling at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said the mentioning of the COC and the important role of the UNCLOS in Obama’s speech reflects the US’ strong stance on the East Sea issue.

At the beginning of May 2014, China illegally dispatched the rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 as well as a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft to Vietnam’s waters and positioned the rig at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude. The location is 80 miles deep into 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.

China’s armed vessels aggressively fired high-power water cannons at and intentionally rammed against Vietnamese public-service and civil ships, causing damage to many boats and injuring many people on board.-VNA