Vietnam protests Chinese actions in contested waters
HANOI: Vietnam is protesting recent actions by China in the disputed South China Sea, saying they threaten peace in the region.
The commander of US forces in the Pacific, Adm. Harry Harris Jr., said this week that China has installed new radar on Cuarteron Reef in the Spratly Islands, and media reports say Beijing has sent fighter jets to Woody Island in the Paracels, where it has deployed anti-aircraft missiles.
Asked about the reports, Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said Thursday that China is conducting activities that seriously violate Vietnamese sovereignty and threaten peace, security and freedom of passage in the region.
"Despite protests and concerns by Vietnam as well as the international community, China has continued with actions that not only seriously violate Vietnam's sovereignty, escalate militarization of the East Sea, but also threaten peace, stability in the region, and maritime and overflight security, safety and freedom," Binh said in a statement on the ministry's website. East Sea is the Vietnamese name for the South China Sea.
He said Vietnam is protesting the actions and urging China to act responsibly to maintain peace and stability.
Binh said Vietnam has "undisputable" sovereignty over the Paracels and Spratlys.
Vietnam, China and Taiwan claim all of the Paracels, and the three along with the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim all or parts of the Spratlys.
Massive land reclamation by China in the Spratlys and its other recent actions have caused concern among countries in the region and in the United States.
US officials say they take no side in the territorial disputes, but support freedom of passage through the area, one of the world's busiest sea lanes.