Updated  
May, 15 2014 08:55:00

Opposition to China's illegal actions mounts

On May 14 in Ha Noi, the Vietnam Fisheries Society (VINAFIS) organised a meeting to oppose China's illegal acts in Vietnamese waters, asking China to move Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig out of Viet Nam . VINAFIS urged Vietnamese fishermen to continue going fishing in the area, contributing to protect the country's sovereignty over sea and islands. — VNS Photo Vu Sinh

HA NOI (VNS) — Voices of condemnation and concern over China's illegal East Sea actions as well as support for Viet Nam's position continued to be raised within and outside the country yesterday.

The Peace Committee and the Peace and Development Foundation of HCM City yesterday strongly protested China's illegal positioning an oil rig in Viet Nam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

The organisations said China's placement of the Haiyang Shiyou-981 rig and deployment of many armed vessels and jets in Vietnamese waters was a serious violation of Viet Nam's sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the country's territory.

The action contravenes the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, high-ranking agreements between Viet Nam and China, and the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), they said.

Besides, China's actions have complicated the situation in the East Sea, causing instability in the region and negatively impacting the friendship between Viet Nam and China, the organisations added.

China illegally placed the rig inside Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone earlier this month and has to date sent a large number of vessels of various kinds to the area, including military, coast guard, marine surveillance, marine patrol and fishing ships.

Moreover, Chinese vessels have rammed Vietnamese coast guard ships and fired water cannons at them while the latter were discharging their law enforcement missions in the country's waters. Several Vietnamese ships have been damaged and nine fisheries surveillance officers injured.

Businesses protest

Also yesterday, the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) voiced its strong protest against Chinese actions.

The VCCI, which represents the Vietnamese business community, described the act as a deliberate violation of Viet Nam's sovereignty, directly damaging the country's important political and economic interests as well as impacting maritime security and trade in the region.

It demanded that China respects international law and its related commitments, immediately stop all illegal activities and withdraw rig Haiyan Shiyou-981 and all other vessels from Vietnamese waters without delay, and absolutely refrain from similar acts in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Viet Nam.

The VCCI called on Vietnamese business circles to take substantial actions to support Vietnamese forces and fishermen, who are determined to maintain their missions to safeguard the country's sovereignty and legitimate interests in the East Sea.

It also asked Chinese business circles and the international business community to urge the Chinese government to act with responsibility to ensure stability, security and normal operations of maritime activities and trade in the region.

Worrying behaviour

Meeting with reporters in Ha Noi yesterday, Rear Admiral Pascal Ausseur, Director for the Asia-Pacific region at the French Defence Ministry's General Directorate for Armament, stressed that stability and development in Asia will contribute to prosperity and security for the world.

Responding to queries about the ongoing tensions in the East Sea, the Rear Admiral said that the European Union had issued a statement expressing its concern over the Chinese actions.

France was one of the countries involved in drafting the statement, he said, adding that France, like the European community, wants related parties to solve the matter through peaceful measures.

The rear admiral noted that most of France's trade exchange is with Asia, and a lot of the goods go through the East Sea. Therefore, the region's security is of economic importance for France, he said.

Singapore and several organisations based in Mongolia and the UK have joined those expressing deep concern over China's illegal dispatch of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou- 981 and ships to Viet Nam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

On Monday, visiting Singaporean Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam told reporters at a press briefing in Washington that ASEAN does not want tension but progress made on a code of conduct.

Singaporean newspapers reported that Shanmugam and his US counterpart John Kerry have called for swifter progress in drafting the COC and urged peaceful settlement of territorial disputes between China and several ASEAN countries.

The Mongolia-Viet Nam Friendship Society said China's actions have alarmed neighbours and constitute a threat to regional security.

Earlier on Monday, George Howarth, chairman of the UK's All-Party Parliamentary Group for Viet Nam, tabled a motion wherein "this House notes the recent incidents in the East Sea/South China Sea; further notes that the activities undertaken by China violate the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Viet Nam; and calls on all parties to exercise restraint and use peaceful means, according to relevant international laws, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to attempt to resolve the dispute."

On Tuesday, the London-based Viet Nam-UK Network has also expressed concerns over the escalation of tensions in the East Sea following the illegal deployment of Chinese oil rig in Vietnamese waters.

The network called on all parties to respect international law, take measures to reduce tensions and refrain from any unilateral action that could threaten peace and stability in the region.

"We urge the parties to settle disputes through dialogue and other peaceful means in the spirit of friendship and cooperation, in accordance with international law, in particular the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) between ASEAN and China," a network statement said.

ASEAN solidarity

At a meeting in Pretoria on Tuesday, the ambassadors of ASEAN countries to South Africa voiced their worries over recent tensions in the East Sea.

Vietnamese Ambassador Le Huy Hoang – incumbent Chair of the ASEAN Pretoria Committee – provided information to the diplomats on the latest developments relating to China's illegal placement of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone.

He said China's act seriously violates international law, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS) as well as the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, to which China itself is a signatory.

Hoang said Viet Nam counts on fellow ASEAN members and the international community to continue their support for the nation's legitimate rights and opposition to China's violations.

He stressed that Viet Nam will pursue all peaceful measures in accordance with the United Nations Charter to solve disputes and safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.

The diplomats agreed that ASEAN members need to bolster their solidarity and determination to ensure peace, stability, safety and maritime freedom in the East Sea, and consider this one of the focal points in the building of an ASEAN Community.

Diplomatic solutions

Constancio R. Vingno, ambassador of the Philippines to Viet Nam, told the Viet Nam News Agency that China's actions have escalated tensions in the region. He reiterated that East Sea disputes need to be settled peacefully through diplomatic channels and in line with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

In Laos yesterday, nearly 1,000 Vietnamese residents gathered at a meeting in Vientiane to reprimand China for positioning the oil rig in Viet Nam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

Ambassador Nguyen Manh Hung told the gathering that China's placement of the Haiyang Shiyou-981 rig and deployment of many armed vessels in Viet Nam's waters was particularly serious and dangerous.

He said China's actions have not only violated Vietnamese sovereignty, they also run counter to bilateral agreements between the two countries on solving sea issues through peaceful means in line with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which China is a signatory.

The actions seriously infringe the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea that ASEAN and China agreed to in 2002. They also endanger peace, stability, security and maritime safety in the East Sea, Hung said. — VNS

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