Vietnam has expressed its support for the Philippines in its maritime dispute with China over the South China Sea, a strategic and resource-rich waterway that is claimed by several countries in the region.
Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Le Thi Thu Hang, said on Tuesday that Vietnam “respects and supports” the Philippines’ stance on the South China Sea issue, and that Vietnam “shares the same views and concerns” with the Philippines on the matter.
The Background and Context of the Support
Vietnam’s support for the Philippines comes amid the rising tensions and confrontations between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea, especially in the areas of the West Philippine Sea and the Whitsun Reef, where hundreds of Chinese vessels have been spotted and reported by the Philippine authorities.
The Philippines has accused China of violating its sovereignty and maritime rights, and of endangering the peace and stability in the region. The Philippines has also invoked the 2016 arbitral ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which invalidated China’s sweeping claims over the South China Sea and affirmed the Philippines’ sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone.
Vietnam, which also has overlapping claims with China in the South China Sea, has been closely following and monitoring the situation in the West Philippine Sea and the Whitsun Reef. Vietnam has also been vocal and consistent in rejecting China’s claims and actions in the South China Sea, and in asserting its own rights and interests in accordance with international law, especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Vietnam has also been supportive and appreciative of the Philippines’ efforts and initiatives to uphold the rule of law and to seek peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the South China Sea issue.
The Implications and Ramifications of the Support
Vietnam’s support for the Philippines has significant implications and ramifications for the South China Sea issue, as well as for regional and international relations and security. Vietnam’s support for the Philippines could have some positive and negative effects, such as:
- Strengthening the solidarity and cooperation between the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as between other claimant states and stakeholders in the South China Sea, such as Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Vietnam’s support for the Philippines could also enhance the confidence and trust between the two countries, and pave the way for more joint actions and mechanisms to address the South China Sea issue, such as the Code of Conduct (COC) negotiations, the joint patrols, and the maritime dialogue.
- Challenging the dominance and aggression of China in the South China Sea, as well as its attempts to divide and intimidate the other claimant states and stakeholders. Vietnam’s support for the Philippines could also embolden and encourage the other countries to stand up to China and to defend their rights and interests in the South China Sea, as well as to seek the support and intervention of other powers and partners, such as the United States, Japan, Australia, and India.
- Escalating the tensions and conflicts in the South China Sea, as well as the risks and uncertainties of a military confrontation or a miscalculation. Vietnam’s support for the Philippines could also provoke a backlash and a counter-reaction from China, which could increase its pressure and coercion on the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as on the other countries involved in the South China Sea issue. Moreover, Vietnam’s support for the Philippines could complicate and hamper the diplomatic and political efforts and processes to resolve the South China Sea issue, such as the COC negotiations, the ASEAN-China dialogue, and the multilateral forums.