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Experts condemn China’s violation of international law in East Sea

Over 50 experts from research institutes and universities in the Czech Republic gathered at a recent workshop in Prague on resolving disputes in the East Sea.

In his speech, the main speaker at the event - Dr. Bill Hayton, senior expert of the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House of the UK, said that the dispute in the East Sea is a complex issue, not only involving China and ASEAN member countries that have claimed sovereignty in the sea, but also concerning geopolitical competition between big countries, especially the US and China.

The Huyen Tran DK 1/7 platform of Vietnam in the East Sea. Photo source: VNA

The dispute in the East Sea is increasingly attracting the attention of the international community, including the European Union (EU), as this is an issue affecting the stability and development of the region, he said.

Hayton recalled that the EU issued a joint statement in late August, expressing its concern about recent unilateral actions that have increased tensions and harmed maritime security, threatened peace and development environment in the region.

He called on the EU to continue to pay more attention to the issue, and to help ASEAN countries involved in the sovereignty disputes in the East Sea to enhance their maritime security capabilities.

China has no evidence and legal basis to claim sovereignty over most of the East Sea under the "9-dash line" claims, he said, noting that China's sovereignty claim goes contrary to international law as well as its own commitment to maintaining good relations with other countries in the region.

He stressed in the process of resolving disputes in the East Sea, one of the most important factors is evaluating evidence presented by claimant states, while claimant countries should promote negotiations, and commit to maintain the status quo.

Sharing Hayton’s opinion that China has no legal foundation to claim sovereignty under the “9-dash line” claim, Dr. Takashi Hosoda – a researcher of Asia-Pacific security at Charles University, the Czech Republic, expressed concern that current tension in the East Sea isthreatening regional peace and security.

He emphasized that China's unilateral activities have increased tensions in the sea, especially its violation of international law by sending the Haiyang Dizhi 8 survey ship into Vietnam's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) near the Tu Chinh reef in the last two months.

China must comply with international law and common value and standards, he said.

Dr. Richard Turcsanyi from Palacky Olomouc University also expressed concern about China's activities to build and militarize artificial islands in the East Sea, causing negative impact on regional security.

In an interview with the Vietnam News Agency correspondent, Dr. Hayton said that the operation of China’s Haiyang Dizhi 8 with the escort of coast guard vessels inside Vietnam's EEZ shows that China is using the strength of a great power to threaten and coerce countries in the region to give up their sovereignty and jurisdiction as well as their legitimate interests.

This is a violation of international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982, he said.