China, Vietnam must solve maritime spat themselves: Chinese official

Ms Fu Ying, chairman of the Chinese Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, speaking in a debate on Friday, May 30, 2014, on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, a forum that brings together defence and security experts and officials from Asia
Ms Fu Ying, chairman of the Chinese Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, speaking in a debate on Friday, May 30, 2014, on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, a forum that brings together defence and security experts and officials from Asia, the United States and Australia. -- ST PHOTO: LING CHANG HONG

SINGAPORE - China and Vietnam have to find a way out for themselves and there is no room for the United States in their maritime spat, a senior Chinese official said.

Ms Fu Ying, chairman of the Chinese Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, made this strong statement on Friday in a debate on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, a forum organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies that brings together defence and security experts and officials from Asia, the United States and Australia.

Senator Ben Cardin, a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who was among the panelists, had said the US was concerned about any unilateral provocation by China even as he stressed that Washington does not side any country in the dispute.

“I don't think Ben can go there and solve it for us. China and Vietnam will have to find a way out,” responded Ms Fu.

Asia Report South China Sea microsite

Her comments came amid rising tensions between China and Vietnam over a Chinese oil rig deployed in disputed waters in the South China Sea earlier this month. It worsened this week when a Chinese ship rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat that was operating within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“When China is confronted, China has to respond and respond effectively to protect China’s interests and also to prevent provocations from spilling over,” said Ms Fu, a former vice foreign minister. But she stressed: “But it is important to come back to dialogue and negotations.”

Mr Cardin, who was in Hanoi on Wednesday where he expressed concerns over the Sino-Vietnam tensions, said: “We don’t want to see unilateral actions taken to resolve sovereignty issues that can be resolved through international norms.”

Also among the panelists were Singapore’s ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh and Mr Tarun Vijay, an MP from India’s ruling BJP.

lingch@sph.com.sg