US and Australia show support for Vietnam in S. China Sea dispute

Beijing claims US is 'maliciously hyping up' territorial disputes in region

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File photo: Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang

File photo: Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Washington's show of support for Vietnam in a territorial dispute with China this week led to China’s allegation that the U.S. is “maliciously hyping” conflicts in the South China Sea.

The statements from China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang (耿爽) on Tuesday (Aug. 27) came after an incident on Saturday (Aug. 24) in which a Chinese research vessel, the Haiyang Dizhi 8, approached well within Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Both the U.S. and Australia have made statements charging that China is acting inappropriately in the region.

The Chinese vessel has been conducting seismic surveys in the region and raising tension by violating Vietnam’s waters for several weeks. The Pentagon referred to China’s conduct as “coercive interference in Vietnam's longstanding oil and gas activities in the South China Sea," reports Reuters.

In response, Geng claimed that the U.S. "made thoughtless remarks, made warrantless criticisms against China, completely distorting the facts and confusing right from wrong," in a hyperbolic rebuttal to criticism of the Haiyang Dizhi 8’s research activity.

Last Friday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The two released a joint statement calling for China to respect a 2016 ruling on the South China Sea and declaring that each nation should be able to pursue its interests free from coercion, reports SBS News.