France, Germany and the UK on August 29 released a joint statement expressing their concern about the situation in the South China Sea (known as East Sea in Vietnam) which they said could lead to insecurity and instability in the region.
Chinese warships operating in the East Sea (Source: AP)
As State parties of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), France, Germany, and the UK underlined their interest in the universal application of the Convention which sets out the comprehensive legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas including in the East Sea must be carried out and which provides the basis for national, regional and global co-operation in the maritime domain.
They recalled in this regard the Arbitration Award rendered under UNCLOS on July 12, 2016.
The three countries welcomed the on-going negotiations between the ASEAN member States and China in view of achieving a rules-based, cooperative and effective Code of Conduct consistent with UNCLOS in the East Sea and encourage progress towards its early conclusion.
They called on all coastal States of the East Sea to take steps and measures that reduce tensions and contribute to maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability and safety in the region, including as regards the rights of coastal States in their waters and the freedom and rights of navigation in and overflight above the East Sea.
The same day, India also affirmed that the country firmly stands for the freedom of navigation and over-flight, and unimpeded lawful commerce, in the international waters, in accordance with international laws, notably UNCLOS.
Indian Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar was quoted by local media as saying at a press conference on August 29 that the East Sea is part of the global commons, adding that India, therefore, has an abiding interest in the peace and stability in the region.
India believes that any difference must be resolved peacefully by respecting the legal and diplomatic processes, and without resorting to threat or use of force, he said.