Vietnam Says China’s Sea Drills Violate Its Economic Zone

Vietnam Says China’s Military Drills Violate Its Economic Zone

Vietnam asked China not to violate its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf with military drills, foreign ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said in response to reporters’ questions about the Hainan Provincial Customs Administration’s announcement about the exercises.

China should not take actions that complicate the South China Sea situation but rather help maintain regional peace, security and stability, Hang said in a statement on the ministry’s website.

The exercises are taking place between the Hainan province and Vietnam from March 4 to March 15, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported on Monday, citing an earlier announcement of China Maritime Administration.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Tuesday at a regular press briefing in Beijing that the drill is lawful. “China’s military exercise on its own doorstep is reasonable and lawful. It is beyond reproach.”

Territorial tensions between Vietnam and China have increased since China placed an exploration oil rig in contested waters in mid-2014, leading to deadly anti-China protests in Vietnam and clashes at sea between coast guard boats.

China says more than 80% of the sea and backs up its claim with a 1947 map that shows its nine-dash line --- looping down to a point about 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometers) south of its Hainan island. Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan claim parts of the same maritime area. 

The area for the exercises is under Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf as defined under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Hang said.

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