KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein today affirmed Malaysia’s commitment to safeguard the nation’s interests in the South China Sea, amid disputes, purportedly caused by China.
In a statement issued today, he also called for an amicable solution to all forms of territorial disputes surrounding one of the world’s busiest trade routes.
“Malaysia remains firm in its commitment to safeguard its interests and rights on the South China Sea.
“Malaysia holds the view that the South China Sea should remain a sea of peace and trade. Thus, matters relating to the South China Sea must be resolved peacefully based on the principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982,” Hishammuddin wrote, adding that all parties must avoid unintended, accidental incidents on the South China Sea.
He also expressed concern that while international law guarantees the freedom of navigation, the presence of warships and vessels in the South China Sea has the potential to increase tensions that in turn may result in “miscalculations” affecting peace, security and stability in the region.
Hishammuddin added that Malaysia has also been working on solutions to the issue with all relevant parties, including China and the US.
Reuters yesterday reported that two US warships are operating in the South China Sea, quoting the Navy.
The report quoted three regional security sources as saying that the warships were near an area of a standoff between China and Malaysia.
The Haiyang Dizhi 8, a Chinese government research ship, was spotted last week conducting a survey close to an exploration vessel operated by Malaysian state oil company, Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), months after it undertook a similar patrol off Vietnam.
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Director-General, Admiral Datuk Mohd Zubil Mat Som had told Harian Metro that the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was in Malaysian waters.
However, he reportedly said that while the purpose of the ship’s presence is unclear, it is not carrying out any activities that violate the law.