Malaysia Calls for Peaceful End to Months-Long South China Sea Standoff

KUALA LUMPUR—Malaysia called on April 23 for disputes over the South China Sea to be resolved by peaceful means, amid a standoff between Chinese and Malaysian vessels that a U.S. think tank said had been going on for months.

U.S. and Australian warships arrived in the South China Sea this week near an area where a Chinese government survey vessel, the Haiyang Dizhi 8, has been operating close to a drillship under contract to Malaysian state oil company Petronas, regional security sources have said.

The standoff was the latest development in a series of targeted harassments by Chinese vessels of drilling operations in five oil blocks off the Malaysian coast in the past year, said Greg Poling, director of the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI).

Since December, Chinese forces have been harassing supply ships servicing the West Capella, an oil exploration vessel operated by Petronas, Poling said.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
A U.S. V-22 Osprey takes off from the USS Wasp, U.S. Navy multipurpose amphibious assault ship, during the amphibious landing exercises as part of the annual joint U.S.-Philippines military exercise on the shores of San Antonio town, facing the South China Sea, Zambales Province, on April 11, 2019. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images)
Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Warships and fighter jets of Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) Navy take part in a military display in the South China Sea, on April 12, 2018. (Reuters)

Last week, the Haiyang Dizhi 8, accompanied by a Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessel, entered Malaysias exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and began a survey close to where the West Capella was operating.

On Thursday, the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was still within Malaysias EEZ, about 337 kilometers (209.4 miles) off Borneo, data from ship tracking website Marine Traffic Showed.

Three U.S. warships and an Australian frigate conducted a joint exercise in the South China Sea this week, near the site of the West Capellas operations, officials and security sources have said.

China has denied reports of a standoff, saying the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was carrying out normal activities.

Malaysia said on Thursday it remained committed to safeguarding its interestRead More – Source