Vietnam demands that China withdraw missiles from Spratly Islands

China has allegedly installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three artificial islands.

A Vietnamese floating guard station is seen on the Spratly Islands in this file photo by Reuters

Vietnams Foreign Ministry on Tuesday denounced Chinas installation of missiles on outposts in the Spratly (Truong Sa) Islands as a serious violation of its sovereignty in the South China Sea, which it calls the East Sea.

The move, which Vietnam finds deeply concerning, has increased tension and caused destabilization in the region, violated the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and is not beneficial to the negotiation of a Code of Conduct in the waters, according to the ministrys spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang.

"Vietnam requests that China, as a major regional and global power, show responsibility in the maintenance of peace and stability in the East Sea, stop militarization and withdraw military equipments illegally deployed on structures under Vietnams sovereignty," Hang said in a statement.

She said Vietnam has full legal basis and historical evidences to assert its sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel (Hoang Sa) Islands.

China seized the Paracel Islands from South Vietnam by force in 1974, and has been illegally occupying a number of reefs in the Spratly Islands since 1988.

In recent years, China has illegally converted seven reefs in the Spratly Islands into artificial islands with runways capable of receiving military aircraft.

U.S. news network CNBC last week reported that China had installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef, all of which are in the Spratly Islands and are under the sovereignty of Vietnam.

The act has been interpreted by experts as Chinas pushing militarization in the waterway, which they said could invite counteractions from regional players, including the U.S. and Japan.

Following the report, the White House said it has raised concerns with China and warned that "there will be near-term and long-term consequences."

Euan Graham, Director of International Security Program at Lowy Institute, told VnExpress that the range of Chinas cruise missiles is about 300 miles, which can help China create a corridor through the middle of the South China Sea that will make it risky for foreign navies to pass.

Experts urged Vietnam to cooperate with its Southeast Asian neighbors and other regional giants including Australia and India to deter China from using its military for coercive purposes.

Last month, Vietnam also issued a request for China to remove military jamming equipment it had installed on Mischief Reef and Fiery Cross Reef. The equipments presence on the reefs was discovered using satellite images taken by commercial satellite company DigitalGlobe, Reuters cited the Wall Street Journal as saying.

Source: VnExpress

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