Việt Nam verifying China's fortification in Paracel islands: Foreign ministry

August 17, 2023 - 18:02
“Việt Nam’s consistent position on this matter is that all activities is the Paracel Islands conducted without Vietnamese permission are violations of Việt Nam’s sovereignty,” spokesperson for the foreign ministry Phạm Thu Hằng said.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Phạm Thu Hằng. — VNA/VNS Photo Văn Điệp

HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese authorities are verifying reports on China’s fortification efforts on the Triton island in Việt Nam’s Hoàng Sa (Paracel) archipelago.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Phạm Thu Hằng made the statement on Thursday during the regular press briefing held in Hà Nội, amid satellite images seemed to show ongoing construction of a new runway on Triton, part of the chain of islands that has been subjected to intense overlaps in territorial claims between Việt Nam and China since China occupied Hoàng Sa since 1974.

“Việt Nam’s consistent position on this matter is that all activities in the Paracel Islands conducted without Vietnamese permission are violations of Việt Nam’s sovereignty,” Hằng said.

“Such activities would serve to further complicate the situation and prove to be detrimental to peace, stability and the security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea (known internationally as the South China Sea),” the spokesperson stressed.

The spokesperson said the foreign ministry is also looking into reports about hundreds of Chinese fishing vessels entering the East Sea since China has ended three-and-a-half month long fishing ban.

Việt Nam-US relations

Regarding questions over Việt Nam-United States relations, the spokesperson said that “in line with the agreements between the high-level leaders of the two countries, the two sides are discussing measures to further deepen the relationship between the two countries in a stable, substantive and long term manner, advance the relations to a new level when the conditions are right, continuing to contribute to peace, stability, cooperation in the region and in the world.”

Việt Nam and the US established the Comprehensive Partnership on July 25, 2013. After 10 years, the comprehensive partnership between Việt Nam and the US has been flourishing and growing substantial across all fields. In each area of cooperation, there are notable highlights. In politics and diplomacy, the most prominent aspect is the increased mutual understanding and respect. Both sides consistently demonstrate respect for each other's independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political systems. The two countries maintain regular high-level exchanges and contacts.

Economic and trade relations are the fastest-growing and strongest pillar and serve as a driving force for the overall relationship. Over the past 10 years, bilateral trade turnover has increased by over five times, from US$25 billion in 2012 to nearly $139 billion in 2022. Việt Nam has risen to become the 7th largest trading partner of the US in the world.

In the field of people-to-people exchange, there are currently between 23,000 and 25,000 Vietnamese students studying in the US each year, with some years surpassing 31,000 before the COVID-19 pandemic. Việt Nam is the leading Southeast Asian country and ranks 5th globally in terms of the number of students studying in the United States.

US tourists consistently rank in the top five sending markets of international visitors to Việt Nam.

BRICS membership

Regarding questions on Việt Nam’s potential joining the BRICS grouping (which include emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), the spokesperson said Việt Nam, as a responsible member of the international community, and in implementing the consistent foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, diversification and multilateralisation of external relations, always stands ready to participate and make active contributions to global and regional arrangements, organisations, and forums.

“Similar to many other countries in the world, we are following with keen interest in negotiated discussion on the expansion of membership of BRICS,” Hằng said.

During the upcoming 15th BRICS summit to be convened in South Africa on August 24, Việt Nam is one of the 71 countries in the world that have received the invitation by the host country of South Africa, the spokesperson said.

Hằng also informed the press that Việt Nam is sending representatives to attend the two primary conferences during the summit, which are BRICS-AFRICA Outreach and the BRICS Dialogue.

Russian weapons

In response to Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shugoi’s comments during the 11th Moscow Conference on International Security that Russia’s new weapons will be used by the Việt Nam’s military and that the development of Russia’s defence ministry will meet the demands of Việt Nam’s armed forces, spokesperson Hằng stated that “Việt Nam always attaches importance to the strengthening of the comprehensive strategic partnership with the Russian Federation in many areas, including defence cooperation.”

“The defence cooperation between the two sides have been maintained and further enhanced in line with cooperation documents and agreements, including the joint vision statement on defence cooperation between Việt Nam and Russia for 2020-2025 and other cooperation arrangements established over the past years,” the diplomat said.

“Such activities contribute to peace and stability, security, safety, cooperation and development in the region and the world,” she added. — VNS