Vietnam on Thursday opposed what it called a Chinese announcement of military exercises in the disputed South China Sea, disagreements over which have pushed tension between the neighbors to their highest in three years.
China has appeared uneasy at Vietnam’s efforts to rally Southeast Asian nations over the busy waterway as well as at its neighbor’s growing defense ties with the US, Japan and India.
In July, under pressure from Beijing, Vietnam suspended oil drilling in offshore waters that are also claimed by China.
Vietnam was deeply concerned about drills in the region of the Gulf of Tonkin, at the north end of the South China Sea, Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement, but did not make clear what drills were being referred to.
“Vietnam proposes China to cease and refrain from repeating acts that complicate the situation in the East Sea,” Hang said, employing Vietnam’s name for the South China Sea.
All foreign activities in Vietnamese waters must comply with Vietnamese and international laws, she added.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs conveyed its position to a Chinese embassy representative on Thursday, the statement added, without saying when China’s announcement was made or when any drill might take place.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last month, the Maritime Safety Administration of China’s southern province of Hainan, which oversees the South China Sea, said military drills would take place south of the province and east of Vietnam from Tuesday this week until Monday next week.
There would be live fire drills around the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島), which Vietnam and Taiwan also claim, until tomorrow, it added.
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