Vietnam seeks to curb Beijing’s South China Sea actions: report

Code of conduct negotiating draft seen by Reuters shows Hanoi wants Beijing’s blockades and island building outlawed.

Tough negotiations lie ahead over a new pact between China and Southeast Asian nations aimed at easing tensions in the South China Sea, as Vietnam pushes for provisions likely to prove unpalatable to Beijing, documents reviewed by Reuters news agency suggest.

Hanoi wants the pact to outlaw many of the actions China has carried out across the hotly disputed waterway in recent years, including artificial island building, blockades and offensive weaponry such as missile deployments, according to a negotiating draft of the ASEAN Code of Conduct (COC) seen by Reuters.

The draft also shows Hanoi is pushing for a ban on any new Air Defence Identification Zone – something Beijing unilaterally announced over the East China Sea in 2013. Chinese officials have not ruled out a similar move, in which all aircraft are supposed to identify themselves to Chinese authorities, over the South China Sea.

Hanoi is also demanding states clarify their maritime claims in the vital trade route according to international law – an apparent attempt to shatter the controversial “nine-dash line” by which China claims and patrols much of the South China Sea, the draft shows.

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK

Taking a cruise to disputed South China Sea islands

Bo Gu
by Bo Gu

“Going forward, there will be some very testy exchanges between the Vietnamese and China in particular over the text of this agreement,” said Singapore-based Ian Storey, a veteran South China Sea expert, who has seen the draft.

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