Sources: Vietnam appears dubious as it pushes for demilitarizing the South China Sea

By ZHANG YUNBI in Manila, the Philippines | | Updated: 2017-08-05 22:08

Sources told China Daily that it is doubtful if Vietnam will take the lead in acting upon its call for "demilitarizing" the South China Sea as it has in recent years been increasing military staff stationed on islands and reefs there it has illegally occupied.

Sources, speaking on condition of anonymity who are close to the matter, made the revelation as Vietnam is reportedly pushing for "demilitarizing" the South China Sea ahead of a gathering of foreign ministers from ASEAN countries starting this weekend.

According to a copy of a draft obtained by Agence France-Presse, Vietnam lobbied for ASEAN to express serious concern over "construction" in the sea. Sources said Vietnam has dedicated a large amount of funds, manpower and materials for large-scale projects and construction there.

Since 2007, Vietnam has increased the pace of its large-scale land reclamation on 21 of the illegally occupied islands and reefs, and has newly built a number of military facilities, including helicopter pads.

According to the information unveiled by reports of Vietnamese media, Vietnam has deployed a large number of weapons and equipment on the South China Sea islands and reefs, mainly anti-aircraft guns, cannons, howitzers, tanks, anti-tank missiles, anti-ship missiles and armed helicopters.

On Nanwei Island and Hongxiu Island in the South China Sea, the Vietnamese military also has deployed battalions with 122 mm beacons, 85 mm cannons and 130 mm cannons.

In addition, at least five of the occupied islands or reefs can accommodate the take-off and landing of armed helicopters.

Vietnam is the country that first started construction on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea, and it is the country that has deployed the largest number of military facilities there.

It remains unknown whether Vietnam could take the lead of "demilitarizing" the South China Sea, as it has called for, when the overall situation in the South China Sea is positive and is developing.

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