China continues to agitate for control of the South China Sea by developing disputed islands into its own bases for militarization. All the surrounding nations are fearing a takeover by China that will adversely affect freedom of navigation. It is no small issue as a large quantity of world commerce goes through this area. This issue is not going away anytime soon.
From JakartaGlobe via REUTERS:
Vietnam Protests China Missile Deployment, Australia, NZ Urge Restraint.
Hanoi/Sydney. Vietnam protested to China on Friday (19/02) at a “serious violation” of its sovereignty over Beijing’s apparent deployment of an advanced missile system on a disputed South China Sea island, while Australia and New Zealand urged Chinese restraint.
Tensions between China and its neighbors over maritime territory have risen since Taiwan and US officials said Beijing had placed surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island, part of the Paracel archipelago it controls.
“Vietnam is deeply concerned about the actions by China. These are serious infringements of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracels, threatening peace and stability in the region as well as security, safety and freedom of navigation and flight,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said in a statement.
“Vietnam demands China immediately stop such erroneous actions.”
The statement said diplomatic notes had been issued to China’s embassy in Hanoi and to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to protest at Beijing’s activities, including the building of a military helicopter base on Duncan island.
Earlier, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had urged claimants to refrain from island-building and militarization in the South China Sea.
“It is absolutely critical that we ensure that there is a lowering of tensions,” said Turnbull, speaking after a meeting in Sydney with New Zealand counterpart John Key.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion in global trade passes every year and which is believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.
The Philippines said it was “gravely concerned” about the reports of missiles being deployed on Woody Island.
“These developments further erode trust and confidence and aggravate the already tense situation,” its Foreign Ministry said in a statement.