International community denounces China’s actions in East Sea

Vietnam and the international community have strongly opposed a brazen decision by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs to establish new districts called “Xi Sha” and “Nan Sha” in “San Sha city” to administer the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, which are part of Vietnam’s sovereign territory.

VOV, VOVworld, fiery cross reef, Vietnam's Hoang Sa, Truong Sa, China's Four Sha, fiery cross reef, Vietnam's Hoang Sa, Truong Sa, China's Four ShaChina has built illegal military bases on the Fiery Cross Reef of Vietnam (photo: Reuters)

International researchers and scholars say China’s establishment of the “Xi Sha” and “Nan Sha” districts will be used to support the “Four Sha” plan China first introduced in 2017. The “Four Sha” plan is really just a variation of the “9-dash line” which was rejected by the the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016.

China’s scheme has no legal basis

Lucio Blanco Pitlo III, a research fellow at the Asia-Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation in the Philippines, said China’s actions in the East Sea are an attempt to distract the public and push ahead with its ambitious “Four Sha” plan. Lucio said China is taking advantage of the global COVID-19 pandemic to consolidate its control of features and maritime areas in the East Sea.

VOV, VOVworld, fiery cross reef, Vietnam's Hoang Sa, Truong Sa, China's Four Sha, fiery cross reef, Vietnam's Hoang Sa, Truong Sa, China's Four ShaLucio Blanco Pitlo III, a research fellow at the Asia-Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation in the Philippines

He added that China’s illegal operations in the East Sea over the entities located in the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf of another country are inconvincible. China’s recent decision cannot foster its vague, unjust claims in the East Sea.

China’s clear intention to monopolize the East Sea is nothing new. “I think the Four Sha maybe a step toward better clarifying the nature of China’s claim in the South China Sea than the 9-dash line claim based on vague historical evidence, said Lucio. He stressed that he nature of the features and the fact that China is not an archipelago country show many holes in China’s clarification.

China’s actions are being strongly denounced

China’s actions have ignored efforts by other countries to manage regional disputes and make the East Sea a region of security, peace, and stability. Experts say that China’s establishment of military bases on shoal reefs and administrative units encompassing maritime areas which are larger than the territory of any ASEAN country, blatantly violate the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the sovereignty of countries bordering the East Sea, including Vietnam.

Professor Doctor Nguyen Hong Thao, Vice Chairman of the United Nations International Law Commission, said: “China’s actions will undermine trust among the countries trying to negotiate the Code of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea. China has ignored the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and is limiting the freedom of passage of ships in the East Sea. One cannot rule out the possibility that China will force other countries to withdraw from their own islands and legitimize its maritime administrative borders.”

Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst at RAND, said the public can see the intention behind China’s bullying of neighboring countries.

Dr. James Rogers, Director of the “Global Britain” program of the Henry & Jackson Institute in London, said countries must abide by international law and continue to denounce China’s actions. He said China’s unjustified sovereignty claims in the East Sea are weakening international law and destabilizing regional security.

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