Vietnam on Sunday (19 April) condemned China’s latest move of establishing two administrative units on islands in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
In Beijing’s latest move to assert its dominance in the disputed waters, one administrative district was established on the Paracel islands and another on the Spratly Islands, both of which are now under the control of China’s Sansha city, according to China Global Television Network.
Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement said: “The establishment of the so-called Sansha City and related activities seriously violated Vietnam’s sovereignty.”
“Vietnam demands that China respect Vietnam’s sovereignty and abolish its wrongful decisions,” she said.
Reuters reported that three regional security personnel saw a Chinese government survey ship tagging an exploration vessel operated by Malaysia’s state oil company Petronas in the disputed waters.
Earlier this week, Haiyang Dizhi 8, the vessel, was seen spotted off Vietnam, where it had last year conducted suspected oil exploration surveys in large expanses of Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.
According to The Epoch Times, a Malaysian security source had said the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was flanked at one point on Friday by more than 10 Chinese vessels, including those belonging to maritime militia and the coast guard.
A Vietnamese vessel was also tagging the Petronas vessel, the news agency added.
Reacting to this incident, the United States Government issued a statement, asserting the Chinese regime to stop its “bullying behavior.”
In an emailed statement in response to questions on the Haiyang Dizhi 8’s presence in Malaysian waters, the US government wrote: “The United States is concerned by reports of China’s repeated provocative actions aimed at the offshore oil and gas development of other claimant states.”
“In this instance, [the Chinese regime] should cease its bullying behavior and refrain from engaging in this type of provocative and destabilizing activity,” the statement read.
It also stated that the Chinese regime’s actions threaten regional energy security and undermine the free and open Indo-Pacific energy market.
According to the Epoch Times, the survey ship remained off the shore of Malaysia as of late Sunday.
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman had said earlier that the ship was conducting normal activities and accused U.S. officials of smearing Beijing.
Earlier this month, Vietnam had also lodged an official protest with the Chinese regime after the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat it said had been rammed by a China Coast Guard vessel near the Paracel Islands.