HA NOI — China needs to respect Viet Nam's viewpoint and unconditionally release its fishermen, Foreign Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi said in a press conference dominated by the East Sea issue yesterday.
The 21 fishermen and their two fishing vessels were seized by China on March 3 around the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago with a ransom of US$11,000 asked for each ship.
"We have repeatedly made Viet Nam's point of view on this issue very clear with China. It needs to meet our demands to respect bilateral relations," Nghi said.
Regarding the National Committee for Overseas Vietnamese's plan to send a working group to the Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago, Nghi said it was nothing abnormal.
"The fact that Vietnamese people visit the country's territory, including islands belonging to the Truong Sa Archipelago in Khanh Hoa Province, is a normal activity," he said.
When asked about China's requesting Russia to stop oil and gas projects in the East Sea, the spokesperson confirmed Viet Nam's commitment to protecting its foreign partners.
"Current co-operation projects between Viet Nam and its foreign partners in oil and gas, including projects with Gazprom, are all located in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf under the country's absolute sovereignty in accordance with international laws, particularly the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea in 1982," he said.
"Viet Nam welcomes oil-related partnerships with foreigners in its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. Viet Nam is committed to protecting the legal rights and benefits of its foreign partners."
Answering a question on a Government draft requesting foreign internet providers to open an office in Viet Nam and users of web services and social networks to register with their real names, Nghi said the document had not been completed yet.
However, the spokesperson confirmed internet freedom in Viet Nam, but "in accordance with the law".
"Like other countries, Viet Nam needs laws to adjust social activities, including the use of the internet, in order to ensure social order and stability... while minimising negative impacts on the community," he said. — VNS