Manage maritime disputes calmly and in accordance with law: Vivian

US Ambassador Kirk Wagar (far left) paying Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan an introductory call on Tuesday. Yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan met Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong (above, right).
US Ambassador Kirk Wagar (far left) paying Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan an introductory call on Tuesday. PHOTOS: MFA
US Ambassador Kirk Wagar (far left) paying Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan an introductory call on Tuesday. Yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan met Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong (above, right).
Yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan met Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong (above, right).PHOTOS: MFA

Singapore urges all parties in the South China Sea dispute to manage their differences calmly and peacefully in accordance with international law, Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said.

He made the call during separate meetings with US Ambassador Kirk Wagar and Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong this week when the envoys paid him introductory calls, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement yesterday.

Tension between the United States and China has flared after Washington sent a warship into disputed South China Sea waters on Tuesday.

Dr Balakrishnan said that Singapore supports the right of freedom of navigation and over-flight under international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

Major sea and air lines of communications pass through the South China Sea, he noted, according to the ministry.

"Every state whose trade passes through the South China Sea, or whose ships and aircraft use the South China Sea, has an interest in upholding the right of freedom of navigation and over-flight.

"This includes Singapore, for whom the South China Sea is a vital lifeline.

"Singapore, as a non-claimant country, does not take sides on the merits of the rival claims," Dr Balakrishnan said in his discussions with the envoys, according to the statement.

"We urge all parties to manage their differences calmly and peacefully in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), with the common aim of maintaining regional peace and stability," he said, repeating Singapore's position on the South China Sea.

The ministry said Dr Balakrishnan had wide-ranging discussions on bilateral cooperation and regional developments with Mr Wagar and Mr Chen.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2015, with the headline 'Manage maritime disputes calmly and in accordance with law: Vivian'. Print Edition | Subscribe