US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Lassen, one of the vessels conducitng operations in the East Sea (Photo: Kyodo/VNA)

Washington D.C. (VNA) – Several members of the US Congress on April 27 urged the Obama administration to help strengthen marine security in the South China Sea (known as Bien Dong or East Sea in Vietnam) via increasing naval operations close to disputed islands in those waters.

A number of Republican parliamentarians said such "freedom of navigation" operations cruising within 12 nautical miles of the manmade islands built by China should become routine. According to Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, such operations should be conducted weekly or monthly.

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado said sending US ships into the area every three months "is simply insufficient to send a strong message to China."

Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey said that China is "dominating" the region and advocated a tougher US stance.

Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said such operations will take place regularly. He shared Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida’s view that China's objective was control of the entire South China Sea. Blinken said China was alienating its neighbors and risked "conflict, instability and isolation' unless it changed its approach and clarified its claims in accordance with international law.”

In the face of China’s illegal acts in the East Sea, Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Le Hai Binh has repeatedly stated that China has seriously violated Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago when it continues to reclaim, expand, build and change the status quo of islands in Hoang Sa as well as to organise tours to the archipelago in defiance of the concern of Vietnam and the international community.

Those acts not only run counter to the common perceptions reached by high-ranking leaders of the two countries, violate the Vietnam-China agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related matters and cause negative impacts on the bilateral relationship, but also go against international law and the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) signed in 2002 between the ASEAN and China, and create tensions in the East Sea, the spokesperson said.

While asserting Vietnam’s indisputable sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, Le Hai Binh stressed that Vietnam strongly protests all the aforementioned acts of China and demand that China immediately end those acts and never repeat them.

China must respect Vietnam’s sovereignty and international law, and take practical actions to contribute to developing the Vietnam-China friendly and cooperative ties as well as to maintaining peace and stability in the East Sea, he said.

The spokesperson also called for all countries inside and outside the region to contribute to maintaining and enhancing peace and stability as well as security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in these waters on the basis of strict adherence to international law.-VNA