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South-East Asian nations oppose China’s increased military activities in South China Sea

Source : Asian News International (ANI)

South-East Asian nations oppose China’s increased military activities in South China Sea
Chinese PLA-Navy Liaoning aircraft carrier battle group in South China Sea (Photo: Reuters)

The violations of international law, as well as foreign interference in the disputed waters of the South China Sea by China, has led many South-East Asian nations to oppose Beijing's military activities in the area.

Valerio Fabbri, writing in Portal Plus said that other countries that share the South China Sea, such as Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, and Taiwan, feel that China's "hegemonic" actions affect their economic prospects as well as threaten sovereign rights.

Fabbri also said that the conflict is likely to escalate due to the dispute over undecided boundaries.

A few days ago, Vietnam took a strong exception to the military drill by Chinese forces, as they were carried out in an area that overlaps with Vietnam's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.

Last year, the Philippines had confronted China over intrusion in EEZ after domestic pressure demanded retaliation, reported Portal Plus.

China claims it has the exclusive right to make, apply and execute its own laws, encapsulated by the creation of artificial islands which are later transformed into military bases.

The rising assertiveness of China, which has militarized three of the Spratlys islands in the disputed sea and increased the military build-up, is set to exacerbate the conflict in the region, reported Portal Plus.

Political observers and experts feel China intends to take control of the seas within the so-called Nine-Dash Line - a map declared by Beijing that includes about 90 per cent of the South China Sea.

The international tribunal in The Hague in 2016 ruled that the said 'Line' had no legal basis.

However, after refusing to accept the ruling, China continued with its activities including the creation of artificial islands.

Not only is the South China Sea an important global shipping route, but it also has rich hydrocarbon reserves and other natural resources, notwithstanding the fact that it is crucial for security reasons in the Indo-Pacific.

After the Hague ruling, China tweaked its South-China Sea policy as it shifted from the Nine-Dash Line to the less dramatic "Four Sha", a group of four areas of sand archipelagos - Pratas Islands, Paracel Islands, the Macclesfield Bank area and Spratly Islands - over which Beijing claims to have historical rights to hold control.

No country in the region has dared to confront Chinese vessels until a few years ago, when the US and its allies, more specifically Australia - a major player in Indo-Pacific - have intervened and opened a front against China.

There is another important factor: pressure from people to act against China. Thousands of protestors had shouted anti-China slogans in front of the Chinese Consulate in Manila after Chinese vessels stopped the Filipino ships. This led the Philippines to slam China despite the present government sharing close ties with Beijing.

At the same time, Vietnam has asked China not to disturb the peace, security and stability in the South China Sea. "We ask China to respect Vietnam's sovereignty and not take actions to complicate the situation," said Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Le Thi Thu Hang, after the recent Chinese incursion.

Vietnam's opposition to China has become noticeable. Vietnam dared to commemorate the 34th anniversary of the Gac Ma battle, which was fought against the Chinese navy, a clear indication that Chinese activities now will not be tolerated, said Fabbri.

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