In an article recently published by Asia Times, Mark Valencia claims that China is not the only wrongdoer in the South China Sea but Vietnam is as well. This view misinterprets the policy of China in the South China Sea. China has not only violated the maritime rights of other states but also systemically rejects the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
China maintains maritime claims that are clearly inconsistent with UNCLOS. It denies the awards of the South China Sea Arbitration, which are final and binding. It utilizes the advantages of a more powerful country to realize aggressively its unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea and to disturb the normal and lawful exploitation of other states’ resources in their maritime zones. In contrast, respecting international law, including UNCLOS, remains the foundation of the position of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regarding the South China Sea.
In 2020, under the chairmanship of Vietnam, the 36th and 37thASEAN Summits emphasized the importance of upholding international law, including UNCLOS, in the South China Sea. Therefore, Beijing’s violations in the South China Sea are a matter of principle, not of degree.