Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Friday highlighted the growing challenges to peace and security in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea, during an event known as the G7 outreach meeting in Japan.
“Unilateral activities that go against international law and regional agreements such as large-scale land reclamation, changing the status quo and scaling up militarization are seriously threatening regional peace and stability,” Phuc said during the meeting in Ise-Shima, Mie Prefecture, as part of a G7 summit.
He said that the current situation requires concerned parties to show restraint and address disputes by peaceful measures in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), enhance trust-building measures and preventive diplomacy and work towards the formulation of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).
Phuc also said that Vietnam welcomes the G7 countries to raise their voices supporting efforts to ensure navigation and overflight security and freedom as well as the peaceful dispute settlement on the basis of international law and regional agreements.
Earlier on Friday, the leaders of the G7, which groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US, said they are worried over rising maritime tensions in Asia and called for disputes to be resolved without resort to force.
"We are concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas, and emphasize the fundamental importance of peaceful management and settlement of disputes," they said in a statement at the end of the two-day summit, without mentioning any individual countries by name.
Their declaration comes as tensions have risen over competing claims in the South China Sea, a strategic body of water that encompasses key global shipping lanes and which is claimed in nearly its entirety by China.
Beijing's encompassing claims and ongoing militarization of islets and outcrops there has angered some of its Southeast Asian neighbors, including Vietnam and the Philippines.
China is also locked in a dispute with G7 host Japan over rocky outcroppings in the East China Sea, stoking broader concerns about the country's growing regional might and threats to back up its claims with force, if necessary.
Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday that China is “extremely dissatisfied” with the statement by G7 leaders on the South China Sea.
"This G7 summit organized by Japan's hyping up of the South China Sea issue and exaggeration of tensions is not beneficial to stability in the South China Sea and does accord with the G7's position as a platform for managing the economies of developed nations," Reuters quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying as saying.