Germany is concerned about recent developments in the South China Sea, the stability of which is of vital interest for the country as well as Europe, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said in Vietnam Friday.
The sea, known in Vietnam as the East Sea, is an important maritime route which transports over 50 percent of world’s sea cargo volume, Gabriel was quoted by the state agency VNA as saying during a meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
The Vice Chancellor cum Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy is in Vietnam for the 14th Asia-Pacific Conference of German Business (APK), which took place in Ho Chi Minh City on November 20-21.
He told the Vietnamese PM that Germany supports settling territorial disputes through dialogues on the basis of internationally-recognized rules. Germany is against the use of force in settling disputes, he said.
Vietnam has urged China and other claimants, including Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei, to settle the territorial disputes peacefully and without coercion.
However, concern is growing about an escalation in disputes even as claimants work to establish a code of conduct to resolve them.
According to IHS Jane’s, a leading defense publication, satellite images show China is building an island on a reef in the Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands, over which Vietnam has sovereignty.
The images showed the Chinese-built island on the Fiery Cross Reef to be at least least 3,000 meters (1.9 miles) long and 200-300 meters (660-980 ft) wide, which is "large enough to construct a runway and apron,” according to IHS Jane’s.
The building work flies in the face of U.S. calls for a freeze in provocative activity in the South China Sea, one of Asia's biggest security issues.
PM Dung last week called on countries to not alter rocks and shoals in the South China Sea and warned that improperly-handled disputes with China risk damaging bilateral relations between the two nations.