Amid escalating tensions in the West Philippine Sea, Vietnam stood alone against China in the UN General Assembly.
As the General Assembly of the United Nations proceeded last week, Vietnam’s delegate rose and made a rousing speech. In the speech, Vietnam’s UN Ambassador reiterated that China should respect their sovereignty. Furthermore, Vietnam defended by citing the United Nations Convention for the Laws of the Sea, or UNCLOS, However, the nation stood alone. Apparently, delegates from nations who also have a claim in the region did not speak out.
Delegates from Brunei and Malaysia did not bring up the issue in their respective speeches. On the contrary, the Philippines did mention about it, but discussed about their potential partnership with the China. Only Vietnam maintained a strong stance for sovereignty.
Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham mentioned that:
“It is alarming that narrowly interpreted national interests are chosen over common values; big power politics, coercion, competition, and confrontation are favored over cooperation, dialogue, and respect for international law. The consequential reductions in political commitment and resources have impacted the efficiency and reduction of multilateralism.”
Furthermore, Pham called out “relevant nations” to “exercise restraint” in respecting the sovereignty of their neighbors. This as an apparent stride against China. Notably China and Vietnam share a national border.
Vietnam and other nations struggle for the resource rich sea
Incidentally, almost all nations across South East Asia claim ownership to parts of the sea. Vietnam claim the Paracel Islands. While the Philippines claim the Spratlys. However, the Chinese Government has forcefully maintained their Nine Dash Line policy over the region. This has led to the breach of multiple territories and subsequent bullying of the Chinese.
Notably, Vietnam and China had another stand off at sea. According to reports, a Chinese survey vessel called Haiyang Dizhi 8 went into the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam. Furthermore, reports state the Chinese Coast Guards accompanied the vessel while inside Vietnam’s territory.