Australia urges 'sovereignty' as S. China Sea tensions rise

Australia urges 'sovereignty' as S. China Sea tensions rise

New allies Vietnam and Australia yesterday expressed concern about China's activities in the South China Sea, where Vietnamese and Chinese vessels are locked in a tense standoff in Vietnamese-controlled waters.

Mr Phuc presented a united front on their position on the South China Sea.

China is taking "aggressive steps" to coerce Southeast Asian nations into halting work with global oil and gas companies in the energy-rich waters off of Vietnam, the US said.

The USS Ronald Reagan is cruising in worldwide waters in the South China Sea amid tensions in the disputed islands, shoals and reefs between China and other claimant-countries as Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.

"In recent weeks, China has taken a series of aggressive steps to interfere with Asean claimants' long-standing, well-established economic activities", Ortagus said, referring to member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The trying "to drive a wedge between China and other countries", Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a press briefing in Beijing today.

A Chinese survey ship has antagonised Hanoi since early July, sailing though waters near the Spratly Islands where Vietnam has several oil and gas projects.

Morrison said he and Phuc discussed "principles that relate to freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight" and ensure nations can pursue development opportunities within their exclusive economic zones, according to a transcript on the Australian prime minister's website. "China firmly opposes this", Geng said.

China must "immediately stop the violation, withdraw all of its ships and conduct no more actions that violate our sovereignty rights in the area", Hang told reporters in Hanoi on Thursday.

"This calls into serious question China's the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes", she added.

She specifically warned Beijing not to hinder efforts by United States oil and gas companies to forge partnerships with other countries in the region.

PM Morrison, who is on an official visit to Vietnam, highlighted the tightened national defence cooperation between Vietnam and Australia over the past 21 years.

Through the engagement, Vietnam wants to prove itself as a prestigious and responsible nation to the worldwide community, and to voice its wish to work together with other countries in ensuring global peace and security, he said.

Besides, since 2011, Australia has helped Vietnam with English language teaching and shared its peacekeeping experience with the Vietnamese side, the guest said.

-With assistance from Kevin Hamlin.



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