Viet­nam: No win­ners, only losers in any South China Sea war

The Myanmar Times - - World -

VIET­NAMESE Pres­i­dent Tran Dai Quang warned yes­ter­day there would be no win­ners in any armed con­flict sparked by ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes in the South China Sea.

Mr Tran, who is on a state visit to Singapore, told a fo­rum that re­cent devel­op­ments there were threat­en­ing re­gional se­cu­rity.

The Viet­namese leader did not men­tion any coun­try but there is grow­ing un­ease over China’s ac­tions.

China claims most of the South China Sea. It has re­claimed reefs and built airstrips ca­pa­ble of host­ing mil­i­tary equip­ment, spark­ing anger from com­pet­ing claimants led by Viet­nam and the Philip­pines.

“The South China Sea not only brings about many im­por­tant ben­e­fits to na­tions in the re­gion but is a vi­tal route to mar­itime and air trans­port of the world,” Mr Tran said.

But “re­cent wor­ry­ing devel­op­ments” there “have had a neg­a­tive im­pact on the se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment of the re­gion, es­pe­cially mar­itime se­cu­rity and safety, free­dom of navigation and over­flight”.

“And should we al­low in­sta­bil­ity to take place, es­pe­cially in the case of armed con­flicts, there will be nei­ther win­ners or losers but rather all will lose,” he said.

Mr Tran was speak­ing to diplo­mats, aca­demics and stu­dents at a fo­rum or­gan­ised by the ISEAS Yu­sof Ishak In­sti­tute.

Four South­east Asian na­tions – Brunei, Malaysia, the Philip­pines and Viet­nam – as well as Tai­wan have com­pet­ing claims in the sea.

Viet­nam has been among the most vo­cal crit­ics of China’s blan­ket ter­ri­to­rial claims. In 2014 China moved a con­tro­ver­sial oil rig into con­tested ter­ri­tory, prompt­ing ri­ots in Viet­nam.

China’s ac­tiv­i­ties in the sea have also drawn crit­i­cism from the United States, which says it seeks to en­sure free­dom of navigation in the wa­ter­way through which US$5 tril­lion in an­nual global trade passes.

The sea row has also driven a wedge be­tween mem­bers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions, which has failed to forge a uni­fied front against Bei­jing’s ac­tions. –

Photo: AFP

Tran Dai Quang says peace must be main­tained.

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