Vietnam diplomat warns of war in South China Sea

China and Vietnam also have a long-standing dispute over the Paracel island group.

Last Updated: Nov 04, 2011, 19:23 PM IST

Hanoi: Territorial tensions in the South
China Sea could explode into "full-scale conflicts" unless
quarrelling neighbours abide by international law, a
Vietnamese diplomat warned on Friday.

Dang Dinh Quy, president of the state-run Diplomatic
Academy of Vietnam, told a Hanoi conference on maritime
disputes that the significance of the sea to regional peace
was becoming increasingly evident.

"The South China Sea is still rife with smouldering
tensions that threaten to escalate into full-scale conflicts
if the parties concerned do not exercise self-restraint and
respect for the basic principles of international law," he
warned.

The forum comes at a time of heightened anxiety over a
web of competing claims between Beijing and several regional
neighbours, including Vietnam, that centre on strategic island
chains in the oil-rich waters.

Quy said an outbreak of hostilities was a risk "if the
international community fails to respond to crisis situations"
appropriately, but added that the area was still "basically
peaceful".

Beijing says it has sovereignty over essentially all of
the South China Sea, a key global trading route. Its claim to
the Spratly archipelago competes with those of Vietnam, the
Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.

China and Vietnam also have a long-standing dispute over
the Paracel island group.

The Philippines and Vietnam have complained of increasing
harassment of their fisherman by Chinese vessels in the
region.

Last month China and Vietnam pledged to settle their
disputes through "friendly consultations", according to the
official Xinhua news agency.

Vietnam also backed a proposal from Manila for a peace
zone in the disputed area in October.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has been trying to
encourage Southeast Asian neighbours to form a united front to
counter China`s sovereignty claims.

PTI