|Christie Lu Stout, editor of CNN's News Stream and Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh. — Photo vov.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh has reaffirmed Viet Nam's resolve to defend its territory and sovereignty in an interview with Christie Lu Stout, editor of CNN's News Stream, on Thursday.
"We reaffirm that we have been very much firm and resolute to defend our territory and sovereignty. We'll continue to do so and take all peaceful measures under international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to protect and defend our sovereignty," he said.
Vinh made the remarks while expressing the country's "strong protest" against China's illegal deployment of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 and a large number of escort vessels, including warships, deep inside the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf of Viet Nam.
Viet Nam "will take all peaceful measures under international laws including UNCLOS," he said in reply to a question on Viet Nam's legal action.
Regarding a query on how Viet Nam sees China's claim to the Hoang Sa (Paracel) islands, the Deputy FM affirmed that "the Paracel islands belongs to Viet Nam. This is historical and legal fact."
China in 1974 used military force to take the Paracels, Vinh said, emphasising that "we cannot accept it. So this is in violation of international law and we cannot accept it".
In response to a question on Viet Nam's Foreign Minister contacting his Chinese counterpart about this issue and the tension at the sea, Vinh said "since the illegal deployment of the oil rig by China into the EEZ and continental shelf of Viet Nam, we have constantly been in contact with China's side to ask them to get both the oil rig and ships out".
He added that the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Viet Nam have been in contact with China's counterparts, including two telephone calls to get China to get the oil rig and ships out of the EEZ and continental shelf of Viet Nam.
Lu Stout asked "do you think there will be a breakthrough?"
"We'll try to do, in talks with Chinese side, to preserve and defend our EEZ and continental shelf and ask the Chinese side to get their ships and oil rig out and continue to do so and together we will communicate also to the world in order to ask China to get the oil rig and ships out," Vinh said.
Lu Stout queried "reports out this week of a Chinese ship ramming a Vietnamese fishing vessel. This has been seen by many as a provocative act. Is Vietnam angered by this?"
The Deputy FM said a Vietnamese fishing boat on May 26 was "both rammed and sunk by Chinese ships," affirming "this is an act of escalating tension in the region and it is intentional."
Viet Nam has protested this act and considered it "inhumane", he said, adding "we request that such acts in the future must be stopped".
Lu Stout asked "You call this inhumane. Is China bullying Viet Nam at sea?"
Vinh said "I think you will observe the occurrence right now in the EEZ and continental shelf of Viet Nam, there has been escalation of tension and acts of threats with regard to Vietnamese ships and also South China Sea or East Sea maritime security, freedom of navigation in the area. I must say all these acts happened in the EEZ of Viet Nam, in violation of international law including UNCLOS."
Yesterday, a group of 35 fishing ships and two coast guard ships from China encircled and threatened Vietnamese fishing vessels operating 30-35 nautical miles from a drilling rig China illegally placed in Viet Nam's waters.
According to the Viet Nam Fishery Surveillance Department, China maintained 117 ships, including 33 coast guard ships, 17 tugboats, 13 cargo ships, four military and 50 fishing vessels, around the oil rig.
The department reported that together with two missile-mounted escort ships and two mine sweeping ships, China also sent a plane to fly above the rig.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese fishery surveillance forces continued to try to approach the rig to demand China immediately withdraw its rig from Viet Nam's waters.
However, when they were 5-6 nautical miles from the rig, Viet Nam's law enforcement ships were encircled and threatened by a group of Chinese ships.
They managed to approach the rig at a distance of 2.8 nautical miles to ask China to remove it.
At the beginning of May, China illegally dispatched the rig, as well as a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft, to Viet Nam's waters and positioned the rig at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude.
The location is 80 miles inside Viet Nam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.
On May 27, China moved the rig to 15 degrees 33 minutes 22 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 36 seconds east longitude.
The new location is 25 nautical miles from Tri Ton Island in Viet Nam's Hoang Sa archipelago and 23 nautical miles east-northeast from the old location, still completely within Viet Nam's continental shelf. This move signaled that China continues to violate Viet Nam's sovereign right and jurisdiction. — VNS