Last update 6/22/2011 10:00:00 AM (GMT+7)

Singapore urges China to clarify claims on the East Sea

VietNamNet Bridge - Singapore said on June 20, that China should clarify its claims to disputed islands in the East Sea.

The comment from Singapore, a non-claimant to any of the islands, came as one of China’s biggest civilian maritime patrol ships, the Haixun 31, docked in the city-state.

“We have repeatedly said that we think it is in China’s own interests to clarify its claims in the East Sea with more precision, as the current ambiguity as to their extent has caused serious concerns in the international maritime community,” the foreign ministry said.

“This is precisely why this port call in Singapore by the Haixun 31 has provoked such interest,” it said in a statement.

“After all scores of vessels from many countries, including naval vessels, call at Singapore every day without arousing the slightest excitement.”

Beijing said the Haixun 31 left south China on Wednesday. It was to come to Singapore after passing near the Paracel and Spratly island groups at the heart of disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines and other nations.

The Haixun 31 would monitor shipping, carry out surveying, inspect oil wells and “protect maritime security”, the official Beijing Daily said — steps that could lead to confrontation with other countries pressing claims in the sea.

It also said it would carry out inspections of foreign vessels anchored or operating in waters claimed by China.

China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan all claim territory in the East Sea. China’s claim is by far the largest, forming a vast U-shape over most of the sea’s 648,000 square miles (1.7 million square km), including the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos.

Tensions in the long-standing dispute have escalated in recent weeks, with Vietnam and the Philippines accusing China of increasingly aggressive actions in the pursuit of its maritime claims.

On May 29 and June 9, Chinese ships cut cables of Vietnam’s seismic survey ships named Binh Minh 02 and Viking II in Vietnam’s waters. At the same time, Manila confirmed that China intruded at least six times into its waters.

At the 21st conference of member countries of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) from June 13 to 17 in New York, USA, seven Southeast Asian countries (Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Laos) called for peaceful solutions and the use of the UNCLOS to solve disputes in the East Sea.

Thai An