Vietnam welcomes efforts by any party that help maintain peace and security in the East Sea, foreign ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said on Thursday while responding to a question regarding U.S.-Philippines joint patrols in the region.
“Maintaining peace, stability, maritime and air security and safety in the East Sea is the common interest and responsibility of all countries in the region and the world. Therefore, efforts by any party that contribute to this common goal deserve to be welcomed,” Binh said.
The United States said on April 14 it would ramp up its military presence in the Philippines and announced that the two countries had started joint patrols in disputed waters.
Plans to deepen U.S.-Philippine military ties, including joint patrols in the South China Sea, known as the East Sea to Vietnam, reflect a “Cold War mentality”, China’s defense ministry said the same day, adding that the patrols “promote the militarization of the region”.
China claims most of the energy-rich waters of the East Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, but the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.
Countries across the region have expressed concern over China’s growing assertiveness in the region, which has intensified with a rapid buildup of man-made islands in the Spratly Archipelago, to which the Philippines and Vietnam lay claim.
The Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesman also said a representative from the ministry had handed over a diplomatic note to the Chinese embassy in Hanoi to protest China’s illegal landing of a military aircraft for the first time on April 17 at an airport on a newly-built island in the Spratly Islands.