23:25 GMT +317 January 2020
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    In recent decades, China has claimed sovereignty over large swathes of the South China Sea, with five other countries including Vietnam contesting Beijing’s claims, leading to political and military tensions between countries in the region.

    “Vietnam highly appreciates Russia’s position on the South China Sea, in which Russia advocates the peaceful settlement of all disputes on the basis of international law, first and foremost the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Chairwoman of the National Assembly of Vietnam, has said.

    Ngan made the remarks at a meeting with Russian senators on Wednesday.

    According to the Vietnamese official, Russia’s position “makes an important contribution to ensuring security and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.”

    “We very much hope that Russia will continue to advocate for the supremacy of international law, and for compliance with the UN Convention,” Ngan added.

    Last month, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Russia could only welcome and support the dialogue between China and the ASEAN countries (including Vietnam) on the creation of a ‘code of conduct’ in the South China Sea as a dispute resolution mechanism. Russia, Medvedev said, supports the resolution of territorial disputes on the basis of the 1982 United Contention on the Law of the Sea (to which both Vietnam and China are members), without the intervention of any third country.

    The United States, which has played an active role in challenging Beijing’s claims to wide swathes of the South China Sea, has neither signed nor ratified 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea. The US has regularly sent warships on so-called freedom of navigation missions to the region, with the Chinese side accusing Washington of violating international law and undermining China’s sovereignty and national security.

    A U.S. fighter jet on the U.S. aircraft carrier in South China Sea
    © AP Photo / Bullit Marquez
    A U.S. fighter jet on the U.S. aircraft carrier in South China Sea

    Citing the history of relations between Moscow and Hanoi, Ngan said she was confident that the comprehensive strategic partnership between Russia and Vietnam will continue to develop, and overcome any challenges and barriers.

    China and its neighbours, including Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, Malysia, the Philippines and Taiwan have laid claim to portions of the South China Sea, with claims often overlapping one another and causing political and military tensions. China and Vietnam have battled over control over the Paracel Islands (known as the Xisha Islands in China) since the mid-1970s, with China establishing de facto control over the islands in 1974 after seizing them from the US puppet government of South Vietnam. Hanoi has laid claim to the islands since unification in 1975, with conflicting claims including several military clashes, and the militarisation of much of the region.

    The South China Sea is a strategic sea zone through which an estimated $3 trillion in trade, including much of China’s Middle Eastern sourced oil supplies, passes. In addition, the area is rich with fishing, oil and natural gas resources.


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