A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Friday said they find recent moves by Chinese vessels in the South China Sea to be “deeply troubling.”
Vietnamese officials claim that over the last week Chinese military and civilian ship have repeatedly intimated their vessels around the Paracel Islands, ramming into them and firing water cannons. Beijing fired back, blaming Hanoi for disrupting drilling operations and demanding that it remove all vessels from the area.
“These actions threaten the free flow of global commerce in a vital region,” the lawmakers said.
Beijing’s unilateral declaration of an “air defense identification zone” in the region last year and harassment of Japanese ships “raise serious questions about China’s approach to regional security,” they added.
The quintet urged their colleagues to pass a resolution they introduced in April that would reaffirm “freedom of navigation” in the region and presses “all parties involved in territorial claims and disputes to seek peaceful diplomatic resolution of those disputes.”
In a separate statement, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Chinese actions are “needless provocations” and that the behavior is “clearly adversarial.”
“If there are difference about what activities are permissible in disputed waters, the Chinese and Vietnamese governments need to engage each other face to face,” he said.