Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Việt Nam Lê Thị Thu Hằng during Thursday's press briefing. — VNA/VNS Photo Lâm Khánh
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam protests China’s deployment of military transport aircraft to bring back its troops on reefs that are part of Việt Nam’s Trường Sa (Spratly) archipelago to the Chinese mainland as “violating its sovereignty.”
Foreign ministry’s spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng made the comment Thursday during the regular press briefing held virtually from Hà Nội.
Việt Nam’s authorities always closely follow the developments in the South China Sea, she noted, as reporters asked for Việt Nam’s comments on the information regarding China’s use of its Xi’an Y-20 aircraft from Mischief Reef (Đá Vành Khăn in Vietnamese), Subi Reef (Đá Xu Bi), and Fiery Cross Reef (Đá Chữ Thập), currently illegally occupied by the Chinese military.
This is reportedly the first time China’s official military units have confirmed the presence of such aircraft in the Trường Sa islands.
“China’s act violates international laws, contravenes the basic principles guiding the handling of maritime issues between Việt Nam and China, increases militarisation and goes against the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and countries’ ongoing efforts in the negotiation towards the Code of Conduct (COC) of Parties in the South China Sea,” she said.
“I would like to reaffirm that Việt Nam has sufficient historical evidence and legal basis to assert our sovereignty and rights over the Paracel and Spratly islands in accordance with international law,” the Vietnamese diplomat stressed.
With regards to questions over scholar Bill Hayton’s discovery of a document from China’s Qing dynasty-era which suggests that Chinese authorities at that time didn’t see the Paracel Islands as part of their territory and that the islands were only “high seas,” Hằng said the discovery only affirms Việt Nam’s claim over the islands in the South China Sea.
On the issue of the newly formed alliance between the US-UK-Australia (called AUKUS), Hằng said Việt Nam maintains that peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and in the world is a common goal of all countries and countries have the responsibility to contribute to this goal. In a related note concerning Australia’s pursuit of nuclear submarines, the Vietnamese diplomat noted that the development and use of nuclear energy should be for peaceful purposes and economic growth, while ensuring absolute safety for people and the environment.
Regarding the European Union (EU) Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific unveiled on September 16, which sought to increase the bloc’s presence and focus in this region, Hằng said Việt Nam highly appreciates the role of and the active contributions of the European Union to the maintenance of peace and cooperation in the region.
“On the basis of the partnership with the EU, Việt Nam stands ready to cooperate with the EU to implement cooperation mechanisms of mutual interests, promote ASEAN centrality, strengthen the Asia-Europe partnership as well as the strategic partnership between ASEAN and the EU, contributing to the maintenance of peace, stability, prosperity in the region,” she added. — VNS