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Newsline: Vietnam’s foreign ministry pledges to protect legal rights acts in South China Sea

Vietnam’s foreign ministry pledged to protect its legal rights after a Vietnamese ship monitored a Chinese Coast Guard vessel on Saturday in a Russian-operated gas field in Vietnam’s South China Sea exclusive economic zone (EEZ). A spokeswoman for Vietnam’s foreign ministry said that Vietnam acts in the South China Sea “to protect its legal rights”. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/vietnam-sends-ship-track-chinese-vessel-patrolling-russian-gas-field-eez-data-2023-03-27/) Chinese coast guard ships have sailed directly into energy exploration blocks operated or owned by Russian firms in Vietnam’s EEZ about 40 times since January 2022, according to vessel-tracking data from Vietnamese research organisation South China Sea Chronicle Initiative (SCSCI), an independent non-profit. The gas-rich fields exploited by the Russian companies are among the furthest from Vietnam’s coast and are close to the strategic boundary with Indonesia’s EEZ, and to blocks claimed by China. Zarubezhneft, Gazprom, and Russia’s foreign ministry and embassy in Hanoi did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said the Chinese Coast Guard carries out patrols in the areas under China’s jurisdiction in the South China Sea while respecting international law, and said it was not aware of patrols in energy exploration blocks operated by Russian firms. Exclusive economic zones generally extend 200 nautical miles (370km) beyond its shores. By international law, a country’s territorial waters – in which it can control all activities – typically extend about 12 nautical miles from its shores. Conflicts can arise where such claims overlap. Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei are among other countries that have competing claims in the South China Sea.

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