The United States is worried about China’s continued interference with Vietnam’s oil and gas activities in the South China Sea and questions Beijing’s commitment to a peaceful resolution of maritime disputes, US Department of State spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said on Thursday.
"The United States is deeply concerned that China is continuing its interference with Vietnam’s longstanding oil and gas activities in Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claim", Ortagus said in a news release. "This calls into serious question China’s commitment, including in the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, to the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes."
The State Department said in the release that China’s redeployment of a government-owned survey vessel with armed escorts offshore Vietnam on August 13 represents an escalation in its efforts to intimidate other claimants out of developing resources in the South China Sea.
China’s actions undermine regional peace and security as well as impose economic costs on Southeast Asian states by blocking their access to an estimated $2.5 trillion in unexploited hydrocarbon resources, the release said.
In addition, China’s actions demonstrate a disregard for the rights of countries to undertake economic activities in their EEZs, the release said.
"The United States therefore strongly opposes any efforts by China to threaten or coerce partner countries into withholding cooperation with non-Chinese firms, or otherwise harassing their cooperative activities", the release added.
Relations between the United States and China have been strained since last year when Washington imposed tariffs on imports from Beijing. China criticised the US move and came up with a set of retaliatory steps that has escalated into a tit-for-tat trade war.