The US State Department on May 12 highlighted China’s recent placement of its oil rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf as provocative.

Secretary of State John Kerry delivered the message in a telephone call with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, emphasising the US’s deep concerns over the recent developments in the East Sea, according to US spokesperson Jen Psaki.

The official also urged both countries to de-escalate tensions, ensure safety for the vessels at sea, and resolve the dispute through peaceful means in accordance with international law.

Commenting on the Chinese deed in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, Emeritus Professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy Carl Thayer described it as unexpected, provocative and illegal.

In an article posted on The Diplomat, he said that the incident marks the first time China has placed its oil rig in the exclusive economic zone of another state without prior permission. This was unexpected because Vietnam has not undertaken any provocative action that would justify China’s unprecedented actions, he added.

The professor stressed that the provocative acts by China, including the ramming and firing of water cannons into Vietnamese coast guard ships, were dangerous and injured Vietnamese crewmembers, as well as violating international law.

Meanwhile, the New York Times quoted David Zweig, Director of the Center on China’s Transnational Relations at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology , as saying China’s aggressive stance towards Vietnam could imperil Beijing’s diplomatic goals elsewhere in the region.

The UK’s Financial Times commented that China’s acts have ignited a strong denouncement from Vietnam and damaged its relations with its neighbour.-VNA