Vietnam opposes Indonesia’s force use against its fishermen; Philippines resumes patrol operations at Scarborough Shoal; Indonesia to boost military in South China Sea; Vietnam wants to develop stable ties with China…
Activities of Related Parties
Regarding Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to China and the likelihood that the two countries will issue a joint statement on maritime security in the South China Sea, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang on March 10 said: “We have noted Prime Minister Modi's visit to Japan. We are happy to see neighboring countries develop normal bilateral relations. We hope that while doing this, they can also respect the legitimate concerns of other countries especially those in the region and do more things conducive to regional peace and stability.”
In reply to a reporter’s query on Vietnam’s reactions to the case involving Indonesia’s naval ship 632 that on October 21 chased and shot at two Vietnamese fishing boats, injuring three of 13 fishermen on board, with one later died due to serious sustained wounds, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Le Hai Binh said: “The Indonesian functional forces’ actions are incommensurate with the strategic partnership between Vietnam and Indonesia as well as the principles of humanitarian treatment towards fishermen. Vietnam requests competent Indonesian agencies to promptly clarify the incident, seriously punish violators, and satisfactorily compensate for the Vietnamese fishermen.”
Two ships of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) arrived to conduct patrols at Scarborough Shoal on November 5. PCG commandant Rear Admiral William Melad said the deployment of the newly acquired BRP Tubbataha and MCS 3010, a monitoring, control and surveillance vessel, is in compliance with the directive of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade for the PCG to conduct patrol at the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Melad said that they might be changing vessels every two or three days.
President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to continue the holding of combined and joined military training between the Philippine and US military but some of it would be scrapped, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on March 8. “The President has approved practically all our recommendations,” he said. Duterte, however, ordered to discontinue assault exercises and some bilateral drills between both forces, but said that other joint trainings with other countries would push through as scheduled. Two of the exercises that would be removed are the Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) and the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT). The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA, an executive agreement between the Philippines and US, would still be implemented after the President gave his go-signal, Lorenzana said.
Speaking to Nikkei Asian Review on November 15 about Malaysia's stance on The Hague's ruling on the maritime claims by China, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said that all claims in the South China Sea must be based and resolved in accordance with international law. “We believe it is important for all parties to respect diplomatic and legal processes, and resolve any disputes and differences peacefully through negotiations.”
Speaking to journalists on November 6, Indonesia’s Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said that the country will strengthen its weaponry systems on Natuna Island in anticipation of future threats in the South China Sea dispute. “We will equip Natuna with a port and extend its military air base runway. The runway should be enough to accommodate four jet fighters.” He added that more jet fighters would be stationed at the military air base Ranai in Natuna. “We are not in a war situation, but the South China Sea is very close to us. We have to be prepared. Our weaponry systems are good, but we need to add more [weapons], so that we don’t need to worry all the time,” he said.
The consensus was reached during the first Vietnam-France Defence Policy Dialogue in Paris held during the Vietnam defence delegation’s working visit from November 7-11. The two sides agreed that on the basis of the agreement on defence cooperation signed in November 2009, defence affiliation has made strides, particularly in joining UN peacekeeping operations and maritime security. However, the outcomes have yet to match potential, they said, agreeing to sign the Vietnam-France joint vision on defence cooperation and the agreement on mutual exchange and protection of confidential information soon. They will also increase meetings, delegation exchanges, defence policy dialogues, and support each other at defence and security mechanisms and multilateral forums. The two sides will also join hands in training, military medicine, hydrography, defence equipment and technologies, visits by military ships and UN peacekeeping. They agreed to consider expanding their partnership in other areas like ensuring maritime and aviation security and safety, and tackling non-traditional security issues. They shared the view on the complicated development of regional and international situations that requires joint efforts from all countries.
Speaking to Filipino businessmen at a forum on November 8, New Philippine ambassador to China Jose Santiago Santa Romana said: ““China is now complying with the arbitration court’s ruling, that’s what our American lawyer is saying.” “China has insisted sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal but promised to do something about our fishermen when the president raised the issue. He added, “China has made a commitment that it will not reclaim the shoal, preserving it as a marine sanctuary, so it is not allowing even Chinese fishermen to fish inside the lagoon. The two countries should now work out some rules of engagement between our two coastguards to avoid a repeat of the stand-off.”
While receiving Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress, in Hanoi on November 9, Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang has reiterated that Vietnam attaches great importance to developing stable, healthy and sustainable relations with China, and thanked the Chinese Party, State and people for their assistance during the country’s revolutionary stages. With regard to the South China Sea issues, he emphasised the significance of mutual respect for each other’s legitimate interests in line with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and joint efforts to maintain stability at sea and a peaceful environment for development. He asked Vietnamese and Chinese agencies and authorities to seriously implement the agreements and common perceptions reached by their senior leaders, not have any actions that complicate the situation, persistently resolve disputes by peaceful measures in conformity with international law, including UNCLOS, fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and work with ASEAN member nations to soon finalise a Code of Conduct (COC) in the waters.
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