South China Sea: Japan and Vietnam team up to bolster defences and take on Beijing
Japan and Vietnam ‘bolster military cooperation’ says expert
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Japan can give defence equipment and technology to Vietnam under the deal which could include naval vessels. The two leaders also agreed on the importance of maintaining peace, security, freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said: “Japan will speed up talks with Vietnam to sell Self-Defense Forces’ vessels.”
Japan’s defence ministry said on Sunday that a submarine believed to be from China was spotted in waters near its southern islands, as maritime tensions persist in the Pacific.
Its navy on Friday morning identified a submerged vessel sailing northwest just outside territorial waters near Amami Oshima island, part of Kagoshima prefecture, the ministry said in a statement.
A Chinese destroyer was also spotted in the vicinity.
Tokyo has complained of numerous intrusions by Chinese vessels of its territorial waters and near disputed islands in recent years.
China has often reacted angrily to U.S. ships sailing through disputed areas of the South China Sea in what Washington calls displays of freedom of navigation.
Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi, visiting Vietnam during a Southeast Asia trip, said those two countries should refrain from unilateral actions regarding the South China Sea that could complicate and magnify disputes.
Wang’s visit to Vietnam, part of his week-long Southeast Asian tour, came about two weeks after US Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip to the region.
The Vietnamese prime minister said in a meeting with the Chinese ambassador just hours before Harris’ visit that Vietnam did not align itself with one country against any other.
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China says it has historical sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, but its neighbours and the United States say that claim has no basis in international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which China is a signatory.
Beijing’s claim overlaps with Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, or EEZ, as well as those of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan. Trillions of dollars in trade flow every year through the waterway, which also contains rich fishing grounds and gas fields.
Wang said the two countries should cherish the hard-won peace and stability achieved in the South China Sea and be vigilant to resist the intervention of extraterritorial forces, the Chinese ministry’s statement said.
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Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh said in a government statement it was important that two countries respect each other’s legitimate rights and interests, in accordance with international law and UNCLOS.
The two sides agreed to continue to strictly adhere to high-level common perceptions, manage disagreements, avoid complicating situations or expanding disputes, and jointly maintain peace and stability in the disputed waters, the Vietnamese government statement added.
Vietnam said China would donate 3 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam this year, raising China’s total vaccine donations to the country to 5.7 million doses.
Alongside Wang’s visit, the Vietnamese defence minister on Saturday met with his Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi on Kishi’s first trip overseas after assuming the post last year, Kyodo news agency reported.
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