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China draws criticism for East Sea actions

Update: May, 14/2014 - 08:38
US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. — Photo AFP

HA NOI (VNS) — China's East Sea transgressions continued to draw widespread condemnation with the US State Department terming them provocative and aggressive.

In a telephone call on Monday to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, stressed his country's deep concerns over recent developments in the East Sea, US spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

Later, in a meeting to welcome Singaporean Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam in Washington D.C., Kerry described China's placement of its oil rig in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf as aggressive.

"We want to see a code of conduct created; we want to see this resolved peacefully through the Law of the Sea, through arbitration, through any other means, but not direct confrontation and aggressive action," Kerry said.

He urged both countries to de-escalate tensions, ensure safety for the vessels at sea, and resolve the dispute through peaceful means in accordance with international law.

Meanwhile, commenting on the Chinese action in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone, Emeritus Professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Carl Thayer, called it unexpected, provocative and illegal.

In an article in The Diplomat magazine, Thayer said that the incident marked the first time China had placed its oil rig in the exclusive economic zone of another state without prior permission.

The move was unexpected because Viet Nam had not undertaken any provocative action that would justify such unprecedented action, he said.

The scholar stressed that the provocative acts by China, including the ramming and firing of water cannons into Vietnamese coast guard ships, were dangerous and a violation of international law.

Meanwhile, the New York Times quoted David Zweig, Director of the Center on China's Transnational Relations at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, as saying China's aggressive stance towards Viet Nam could imperil Beijing's diplomatic goals elsewhere in the region.

The UK's Financial Times commented that China's actions had been denounced strongly by Viet Nam and damaged relations with its neighbour.

Bogus claims

The Association of Vietnamese Students and Professionals in the United States has strongly protested China's illegal placement of the drilling rig in Vietnamese waters, and called on overseas Vietnamese students to keep their international friends informed of Beijing's aggressive behavior and bogus sovereignty claims.

A group of foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has also expressed deep concern over China's illegal actions.

At a press conference organised in Ha Noi yesterday by the Viet Nam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO), experts highlighted the historical and legal aspects of the issue, stating that China had strongly violated Viet Nam's sovereign right and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

The move runs counter to international law and the agreements reached by leaders of both countries, they said.

Apart from hurting the Vietnamese people and raising concerns among both the regional and international communities, the infringement hadnegatively affected political trust and co-operation between the two countries and threatened peace and stability in the region and the world, they added.

The NGOs called on all parties concerned to persistently promote negotiations based on respect for international laws.

They also asked the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take measures to support an early resolution of the East Sea dispute.

The organisations agreed that China's withdrawal of its rig and other vessels out of Vietnamese waters would help sustain peace and stability in the region and the world.

Fishermen undaunted

Dozens of offshore fishing vessels from the central region, including Da Nang City, headed out to sea on May 10-11, braving the possibility of aggressive actions by Chinese ships, a local newspaper reported.

Da Nang Today online said many local fishermen at the city's Tho Quang Wharf were busy preparing for their next trip to waters off the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago, their traditional fishing grounds.

They were loading supplies of fuel, food, fresh water and ice, the report said.

It quoted Le Van Chien of the central city's Thanh Khe District as saying his offshore fishing boat would operate in the location where China has illegally positioned its drilling rig.

Chien said he was aware that upcoming trips to the Hoang Sa waters might result in dangerous situations. However, he said he and other local fishermen deemed it a "great honour" to support the Vietnamese coast guards in their fight against China's deliberate infringement of Viet Nam's sovereignty.

Another fisherman, Tran Trung Thang, who has more than 20 years' of experience in offshore fishing, said his upcoming trip was very special because it would be carried out for the purpose of safeguarding the nation's sovereignty.

He asserted that the nation's sea and islands are integral parts of its territory that play a vital role in securing the survival and prosperity of the country.

For this reason, the Vietnamese Government and every citizen, including every fisherman, would uphold their responsibilities to protect the nation's waters, Thang said.

The intrepid fisherman also pledged that he and his peers would strengthen their solidarity and mutual support at sea.

Protest lodged

On Monday, the Ho Chi Minh City Department of External Affairs summoned the Chinese Consulate General's representatives to protest China's illegal deployment of its drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 as well as a number of escort ships in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

The city officials said such actions were a breach of international law and practices and seriously violated Viet Nam's sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago as well as its sovereign right and jurisdiction over the country's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

It also negatively impacted political trust and co-operation between the two countries and hurt Vietnamese people, including those in HCM City, they said.

They stressed Viet Nam had sufficient historical and legal evidence attesting its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Archipelago. The country would use all necessary and suitable measures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interest, they added.

They noted that Viet Nam had consistently displayed patience and goodwill for settling disputes through negotiations, dialogue and other peaceful ways following common perceptions expressed by the two countries' high-ranking leaders.

Viet Nam's approach was guided by the agreement on basic principles on settling sea-related issues in compliance with international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), they said.

The Viet Nam War Veterans' Association (VWVA) and the Viet Nam Women's Union (VWU) strongly protested China's illegal placement of a drilling rig in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

The VWVA asked China to immediately withdraw the rig and escort ships from Viet Nam's waters and refrain from similar acts in the future.

The association strongly affirmed Viet Nam's sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos and sovereign right and jurisdiction over the country's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in the East Sea in line with the provisions of international law.

It called on countries and veterans' associations and individuals all over the world to raise their voice to protect justice and international law and said it stood ready to do its utmost to encourage Vietnamese youth to resolutely safeguard national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and interests.

The VWU also issued a statement condemning China's brazen violation of Viet Nam's sovereignty and territorial integrity, sovereign right and jurisdiction. It was also a violation of the 1982 UNCLOS and the DOC, the statement said, running counter to commitments the two countries' leaders had repeatedly affirmed.

The statement said China's wrongful move damaged the friendship between the people, especially women, of the two countries.

The union called on international partners and women all over the world, including those in China, to raise their voices to protect peace and justice. It demanded the Chinese government abide by international law and immediately withdraw the rig and escort ships from Viet Nam's waters.

The union pledged to do all it could to nurture international solidarity and friendship, thus contributing to the goals of equality, development and peace jointly pledged by women throughout the world at the fourth world women's conference held in Beijing in 1995.

Chinese vessels attack ship

Viet Nam's Coast Guard ship 4032 had its railing damaged yesterday after being rammed by a Chinese vessel in the vicinity of Haiyang Shiyou-981, the oil rig that has been illegally placed in Vietnamese waters.

At 8:30am, while approaching the western area of the rig to affirm Viet Nam's sovereignty and ask Chinese forces to leave the area, the Vietnamese ship was surrounded by three Chinese vessels.

One of them fired high-pressure water cannons while Chinese coast guard vessel 46001 crashed into the left side of the Vietnamese ship, damaging three ventilation fans and smashing a 10m-long section of the railing.

In the meantime, a Chinese coast guard vessel also blasted a Vietnamese fisheries surveillance boat with high-pressure water.

According to the Viet Nam Coast Guard High Command, China has so far illegally deployed 86 ships of various kinds in the area. They include military, coast guard, marine surveillance, marine patrol and fishing ships backed by rescue, transport and refuelling ships. — VNS

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