Vietnam Criticizes New Chinese Military Drills in South China Sea

Vietnam and the Philippines last month condemned China's holding of a previous set of military drills in the area

Vietnam on Wednesday blamed China for violating its sovereignty by conducting military drills in a disputed region of the South China Sea ad mentioned that Beijing's actions were complicating the negotiations on the establishing code of conduct in that area.

China this week started six days of exercises in the water near the Paracel Islands, where Vietnam has competing claims, as per the Maritime Safety Administration of Hainan, which is an island off the southern coast of China. It was the second set of the drills in the area by China in two months.

"China's repeated military exercises in (the Paracel Islands) violate Vietnam's sovereignty, complicating negotiations for a Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea between China and ASEAN," foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement.

Vietnam Accuse China of Military Drills in Disputed South China Region

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Vietnam is this year chairing the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which has had long-drawn-out negotiations with Beijing over a code of conduct in the South China Sea. China's defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At a June 26 summit in Hanoi, Vietnam and the Philippines - China's most vocal challengers over the sea - warned of growing regional insecurity amid concern that Beijing was advancing territorial claims under the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic.

China claims historical jurisdiction over about 80% of the sea, using a U-shaped "nine-dash line" that includes swathes of Vietnam's exclusive economic zone, or EEZ, as well as the Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands. It also overlaps the EEZs of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Vietnam and the Philippines last month criticized China's holding of an earlier set of military drills in the area. The United States in June also hardened its position on the South China Sea, where it has accused China of attempting to build a "maritime empire" in the potentially energy-rich waters.

(With agency inputs)