Hanoi: Vietnam severely criticised China during the ASEAN conference over the Coronavirus pandemic and tension in the South China Sea. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc criticised that the economy built over so many years crashed because of the epidemic. The Vietnamese Prime Minister also lashed out that China should stop its inciting military activities in the South China Sea to diffuse the tension in this region. Along with Vietnam, other countries like the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also opposed the Chinese activities in the South China Sea.
The 36th Conference of the southeast Asian countries was held on Friday under the title of ‘Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN’. Vietnam, who was presiding the conference, criticised China without naming it. Prime Minister Phuc targeted China by saying that the economies of the Southeast Asian countries are faced with major challenges, because of the pandemic, which spread in the world, starting in one country. It was also announced in the conference that against the background of the epidemic, Japan would be providing medical aid to the southeast Asian countries. Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei released a joint statement against China, who is claiming rights over the South China Sea.
Phuc made vitriolic criticism that while the world is engaged in fighting the Coronavirus menace, some countries are increasing tension in the South China Sea with their irresponsible actions. All four Southeast Asian countries have appealed that the countries claiming rights over the South China Sea should completely stop their military activities to avoid festering of tension in the region. The southeast Asian countries severely criticised the Chinese military exercises in the South China Sea as it has been agreed to amicably resolve the South China Sea issue. Chinese actions, taken in the last few months against the ships of Vietnam and the Philippines, were also criticised in the conference.
It was also warned during the meeting that China would try to tighten its grip over the South China Sea, taking advantage of the situation created because of the Coronavirus pandemic. The congregation was reminded that during the economic crisis, which hit the Southeast Asian countries in the 90s decade and also during the SARS pandemic, China had made military moves in the South China Sea, to strengthen its position in the region. These four countries expressed concerns that China will try and take advantage of the Coronavirus pandemic crisis.
A few weeks ago, Vietnam and the Philippines had challenged the Chinese claim on the South China Sea. Vietnam and the Philippines had appealed to the United States for support against this Chinese claim. Thereafter, the United States issued a warning to China by sending its aircraft carrier to the South China Sea. Philippines had increased the period of its military cooperation agreement with the United States to open its military bases for the US warships. China had strongly objected to this stand taken by the Philippines and had even warned the Philippines of dire consequences. But it is becoming more apparent that the southeast Asian countries are not paying any heed to the Chinese threats. The criticism made by Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei demonstrates the same sentiment.