September 19, 2019
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US, Vietnam censure China for interfering in Hanoi’s territorial waters

 Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang addresses journalists during a regular press conference at the Government Guesthouse in Hanoi, Vietnam Aug. 8, 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/MINH HOANG

Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang addresses journalists during a regular press conference at the Government Guesthouse in Hanoi, Vietnam Aug. 8, 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/MINH HOANG

Washington, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- The United States on Thursday accused China of interfering with Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea and intimidating regional claimants as Hanoi called for Beijing to withdraw its vessels from its territory.

"The United States is deeply concerned that China is continuing its interference with Vietnam’s longstanding oil and gas activities in Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claim," the US State Department said in a statement.

The department also said Beijing’s redeployment of a government survey vessel and armed escorts into waters off Vietnam is part of China’s recent series of “aggressive steps to interfere with ASEAN claimants’ longstanding, well-established economic activities, in an attempt both to coerce them to reject partnerships with foreign oil and gas firms, and to work only with China’s state-owned enterprises.”

The statement comes after Vietnam on Thursday called on China for the second time in a week to withdraw its oil survey vessel and escorts from its territorial waters.

The Chinese vessel “Haiyang Dizhi 8” returned on Aug. 13 to an area near the Vanguard Bank, located within Vietnam's EEZ, despite protests from Hanoi, which had deployed several coastguard vessels.

“Vietnam has made contact multiple times and requested that China withdraws its ships, and not engage in behavior that threatens security and peace in the region,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang at a press conference on Thursday.

She added that Hanoi was determined to protect its sovereignty and resolve the dispute peacefully in accordance with international law.

In May, Vietnam in collaboration with Russia's Rosneft began drilling near the Vanguard Bank.

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh reported in a regional forum earlier this month the "illegal" activities by China, which in recent weeks has carried out similar surveys in Philippine and Malaysian territorial waters.

China has built military facilities on several islands and claimed almost the entirety of the South China Sea – a strategic maritime space key to international trade and with a wealth of natural resources, also partially claimed by Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. EFE-EPA

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