Vietnam to host ASEAN naval meeting, highlight East Sea issues

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Vietnam will discuss China's recent transgressions in the East Sea at a gathering of regional naval commanders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this July 26-29 in Hanoi, VnExpress quoted an official as saying Tuesday.


As the host country of the fifth ASEAN Naval Chiefs' Meeting, Vietnam will report recent instances in which Chinese ships severed the exploration cables attached to Vietnamese petroleum ships. 


On May 26 a Chinese marine surveillance vessel severed the exploration cables of the state-owned Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam)'s Binh Minh 2.


Two weeks later, the Viking II, a Norweigian ship contracted by a joint venture between PetroVietnam Technical Services Corporation and the French-owned CGG Veritas, was also disturbed by Chinese ships.


Vietnamese delegates at the conference will further discuss other issues related to China's sovereignty claims in the East Sea, Vice Admiral Pham Ngoc Minh, Vice Commander of the Vietnam People's Navy, told the press Monday.


Only nine ASEAN member states will attend the meeting, he said, adding that the visiting naval chiefs will visit several naval bases.


Vietnam will also hold meetings with each delegation, Minh added.


Many ASEAN nations whose sovereign territories have been included in China's now-infamous nine-dash, or U-shaped claim over the majority of the East Sea are also concerned, Minh said.


However, the countries have agreed to handle the issues through peaceful negotiations based on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, the official stressed.


Vietnam will seek support from ASEAN countries, and then move towards to the Code of Conduct to be signed between ASEAN and China, Minh was quoted as saying.



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"Our objective is to keep our sovereignty, sovereign rights, jurisdiction as well as a peaceful and stable environment. We cooperate with other countries based on a platform of independence, no alliances, no military associations, and no dependence on any country to solve our problems," he said.


Minh added that the Vietnam Navy will cooperate with other ASEAN naval forcesin various activities like information-sharing, anti-piracy tactics, in addition to conducting research and rescue drills.


Vietnam has set up hotlines with the Thai and Cambodian navies and conducted joint patrols with them on more than 20 occaisions, Minh was quoted as saying.


Vietnam is also working towards conducting joint patrols with Malaysia and Indonesia, he said, adding that Vietnam will sign joint-patrol agreements with these nations at the end of this year.


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