The Vietnam News Agency on August 29 quoted an expert from Indonesia as saying that the Chinese survey vessel group Haiyang Dizhi 8’s activities in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are clearly a breach of international law and must be condemned.

Mr. Beni Sukadis, Program Coordinator of the Indonesian Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies (LESPERSSI), as quoted by the State-run news agency, said that any country that has ratified the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) must comply with it, adding that ASEAN should bring the East Sea issue to forums for discussion.

According to Mr. Sukadis, ASEAN has its own principles, called the “ASEAN Way”, which uphold respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

These principles need to be heightened not only among ASEAN member states but also in the entire Southeast Asian region, he noted.

He further said that if a country outside of ASEAN violates the territory of an ASEAN member state, then ASEAN is obliged to gather to seriously discuss the matter. 

Mr. Sukadis also expected that negotiations over a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) between ASEAN and China will be fruitful.

Meanwhile, Associate Professor Dr. Dinna Wisnu at the Department of International Relations at the Jakarta-based Bina Nusantara University, also quoted by the news agency, said that what China is doing in the East Sea is “unacceptable” and makes regional countries very concerned.

She urged regional countries to take stronger actions against China and that it is crucial to further strengthen bilateral agreements among ASEAN member states, particularly in economy, to create greater power and position for the grouping at international forums.