Singapore on Monday urged Beijing to be precise about its claims of sovereignty and jurisdiction over the South China Sea (SCS). China's position is that it “has indisputable sovereignty over the SCS Islands and adjacent waters”.

As a party to the nearly-decade-old Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DoC), Singapore chose to comment on the current tensions in the SCS.

The comment was timed for “a routine port call” here by Haixun-31, a Chinese maritime-surveillance vessel.

Before docking here on Monday, the ship had sailed along the SCS, the scene of recent showdown between China, on one side, and Vietnam as also the Philippines, on the other.

“It is in China's own interests to clarify its claims in the SCS with more precision” than now, Singapore emphasised. Beijing's “current ambiguity” had in fact “caused serious concerns in the international maritime community”.

Singapore “is not a claimant-state and takes no position on the merits or otherwise of the various claims in the SCS.” However, as a major trading nation, the city-state was concerned that “the recent incidents [in the SCS] … raise serious questions in relation to the interpretation of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”.

Suggesting that the DoC be implemented without further delay, Singapore said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had recently given new proposals to China on how to break the impasse. Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines are among the 10 ASEAN member-states.

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