‘We used diplomacy to resolve sea dispute’

MALAYSIA used diplomacy to resolve the recent incident involving a Petronas oil and gas exploration vessel and Chinese vessels in the South China Sea, says Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

He said since March, when handling the issue involving the Petronas vessel West Capella in the Arapaima-1 and Lala-1 oil fields, Wisma Putra resorted to discussions and diplomacy on the issue.

“As a result, the Chinese vessels left the area concerned,” the Foreign Minister said in reply to Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim (BN-Arau).

While being consistent in claims of sovereignty in the particular area, Hishammuddin said Malaysia remained committed towards resolving disputes over claims in the South China Sea through diplomacy.

“Over the past few months, I voiced this to several leaders that all parties must work together to avoid incidents, whether intentional or not.

“Any conflict in the area will only result in rising tensions which could threaten the peace, security and stability of the South China Sea,” he said.

Hishammuddin said he had raised the matter with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi the day before.

The minister said the South China Sea was complex as it involved overlapping claims between Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Besides the non-binding Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed in 2002, Hishammuddin said Asean and China were still working towards finalising its Code Of Conduct agreement which was mooted in 2018.

It was reported that the Haiyang Dizhi 8, a Chinese government survey ship, had tagged West Capella in the disputed waters in the South China Sea in mid-May after a month-long stand-off with the vessel.

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