|A international conference on the East Sea dispute opens in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu
HCM CITY (VNS) — China's construction of oil rigs and artificial islands in the East Sea were illegal, an international seminar was told in HCM City on Saturday.
About two hundred Vietnamese and foreign experts from international institutes and universities in the United States, Russia, Japan and the Philippines attended the function.
They said China's actions had adversely impacted peace, security, economies, trade and the marine environment.
Professor Dr Mai Hong Quy, Rector of the HCM City University of Law, said maintaining an environment of stability, co-operation and development in the Asia-Pacific - and the East Sea in particular - was critical to ensuring peace, maritime and aviation security, and freedom.
He added that this was also an obligation and responsibility by countries in the region and the world.
Quy said that after positioning an oil rig in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, China had constructed large-scale artificial islands in seven places in Viet Nam's Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago.
Experts said although political viewpoints and responses towards the artificial island construction varied among countries, negative influences of the action on peace, security, economy, trade, marine and aviation freedom and marine environment would affect all countries around the globe.
Associate Professor Dr Nguyen Ba Dien, Chairman of the board of Viet Nam's Scientific Research Institute of the Sea and Islands, said the building of artificial islands seriously violated the sovereignty, sovereign right and national jurisdiction of Viet Nam and other countries and infringed on principles of international law.
He said it created a deleterious precedent that one country can brazenly flout basic principles of international law and was ready to break international law, directly affecting maritime safety in the East Sea.
The move also threatened security, peace, stability in the region and the world, destroyed the environment and marine ecosystem, and caused long-term impacts on fishermen who had to depend on marine resources in the East Sea for their livelihood, he added.
Dr Pham Van Vo, Vice-Dean of the Commercial Law Faculty of the University of Law, said China's construction of artificial islands negatively influenced the marine environment, ecosystem and biodiversity and breached International Environmental Law.
That action also ran counter to the spirit of principle 2 of the Stockholm Declaration as well as principle 7 of the Rio De Janeiro Declaration on environment and development.
Vo added that the destruction of coral reefs and its impacts on marine ecosystems flouted environmental regulations under Article 192 and 193 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
He noted that China also broke an environmental obligation by not providing details of the island building on the environment as stipulated in Article 197, 198, 199, 200 and 201 of the UNCLOS.
Professor Dr Jay L. Batongbaca from the University of the Philippines College of Law said the construction through land reclamation would completely destroy coral reefs and damage the marine environment. He said the massive reclamation was against China's obligation to preserve and protect the marine environment clearly specified in the UNCLOS.
The alarming speed of island reclamation and its enormous effects on the marine environment posed a direct challenge to solving the disputes in the East Sea, the expert said.
At the seminar, participants also analysed negative impacts of China's artificial island building on global peace, security, economy and trade, the country's relations with other nations in the region and the world, and marine and aviation freedom at sea.
Vice Admiral Anup Singh, former Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Navy's Eastern Naval Command, said the only way to creater peace and stability was for all parties involved to seek justice through international jurisdiction.
Singh said ASEAN nations also needed to create a stronger common voice about the issue. — VNS