KUALA LUMPUR (1) – Malaysia known as on Thursday for disputes over the South China Sea to be resolved by peaceful means, amid a standoff between Chinese language and Malaysian vessels {that a} U.S. suppose tank mentioned had been happening for months.

U.S. and Australian warships arrived within the South China Sea this week close to an space the place a Chinese language authorities survey vessel, the Haiyang Dizhi 8, has been working shut to a drillship below contract to Malaysian state oil firm Petronas, regional safety sources have mentioned.

The standoff was the most recent growth in a sequence of focused harassments by Chinese language vessels of drilling operations in 5 oil blocks off the Malaysian coast prior to now 12 months, mentioned Greg Poling, director of the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI).

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

Final week, the Haiyang Dizhi 8, accompanied by a Chinese language Coast Guard (CCG) vessel, entered Malaysia’s unique financial zone (EEZ) and started a survey shut to the place the West Capella was working.

On Thursday, the Haiyang Dizhi Eight was nonetheless inside Malaysia’s EEZ, about 337 kilometres (209.four miles) off Borneo, information from ship monitoring web site Marine Site visitors Confirmed.

Three U.S. warships and an Australian frigate carried out a joint train within the South China Sea this week, close to the location of the West Capella’s operations, officers and safety sources have mentioned.

China has denied experiences of a standoff, saying the Haiyang Dizhi Eight was finishing up regular actions.

Malaysia mentioned on Thursday it remained dedicated to safeguarding its pursuits within the South China Sea.

“Whereas worldwide legislation ensures the liberty of navigation, the presence of warships and vessels within the South China Sea has the potential to enhance tensions that in flip might lead to miscalculations which can have an effect on peace, safety and stability within the area,” International Minister Hishammuddin Hussein mentioned in his first official remarks on the standoff.

Hishammuddin mentioned Malaysia maintained “open and steady communication” with all related events, together with China and the USA.

Petronas didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Individually, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry mentioned {that a} Chinese language plane service group lead by China’s first plane service, the Liaoning, had ended a mission within the South China Sea on Wednesday and was now heading east by the Bashi Channel, which separates Taiwan from the Philippines.

The service group earlier this month sailed down Taiwan’s east coast. China mentioned on the time it was on its method to routine workouts within the South China Sea.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Extra reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee in Taipei; Enhancing by Raju Gopalakrishnan