Saturday, December 14 2019


Vietnamese abroad voice unity on East Sea dispute

Update: May, 26/2014 - 08:25
Vietnamese and foreign supporters gathered in front of Sydney Town Hall yesterday to protest China's placement of an oil rig within Vietnamese waters. — VNA/VNS Photo Hong Van

SYDNEY (VNS) — Over 300 Vietnamese and foreign supporters raised banners in front of Sydney Town Hall yesterday, expressing their overwhelming indignation over China's illegal placement of Haiyang Shiyou-981oil rig and escorting vessels in Viet Nam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone since early May.

Following the demonstration, they issued a statement declaring that China's act was a grave violation of the United Nations Charter and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and against the spirit of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea and its agreements with Viet Nam on the settlement of issues at sea.

In the document, they called on China to conform to international law by pulling its rig and ships out of Viet Nam's waters immediately and unconditionally.

Vietnamese people in Kuala Lumpur held a similar rally and sent a letter of protest to the Chinese embassy the same morning, in which they asked China to respect its neighbouring countries, their sovereignty and international law.

The Vietnamese community in Egypt also joined a meeting to protest China's installment of its oil rig on Vietnamese waters. Vietnamese Ambassador to Egypt Dao Thanh Chung gave a speech accusing China of seriously violating international law. He made it clear that Vietnamese both at home and abroad and many countries around the world had vowed to side with Viet Nam during its fight. They also called on China to withdraw its rig and escort vessels from Viet Nam's waters immediately.

More than 150 Vietnamese people, mainly students, take part in a demonstration on Saturday in Adelaide, capital city of South Australia. — VNS Photo Lam Lam

The same day, crowds of Vietnamese and Swiss people took to the streets in Zurich, raising banners asking China to abide by international law.

In a letter sent to the Chinese Consul General in Zurich, they requested the Chinese government pull its rig and ships out of Viet Nam's waters right away, saying the dispute should be settled via diplomatic channels.

Vietnamese scholars in the US said the act seriously violated international law and applauded the measures Viet Nam was taking in response to the incident.

Dr. Ngo Nhu Binh, Director of the Vietnamese Language Programme in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilisation at Harvard University, said that the placement of the oil rig was more of a political move than an economic one.

"China has a great ambition for the East Sea, and the nine-dot line is an obvious manifestation of this expansionism," Binh told New York-based Viet Nam News Agency correspondents. The lecturer hailed the response of the Vietnamese government to China's act and said he thought now was the time for Viet Nam to take the matter to an international court. According to Binh, Viet Nam should consult international law experts about this issue and study the experience of the Philippines.

"If we take the matter to an international court, we must have a firm legal foundation," he said.

The Vietnamese protestors march peacefully along streets of the inner Adelaide City, brandishing red-starred Vietnamese flags and chanting slogans written in English. — VNS Photo Lam Lam

Lawyer Ta Van Tai, a former lecturer at Harvard Law School, noted that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) required that concerned parties engage in talks and conciliation procedures before taking compulsory procedures entailing binding decisions, so bilateral and multi-lateral diplomatic talks were a must.

Tai suggested that Viet Nam take the issue to the United National General Assembly or the UN Security Council, saying that a resolution adopted by the former could deter China. He said while the matter could be vetoed by China at the UN Security Council, Viet Nam should still raise the issue, because this was a necessary step when international peace and security were under threat. With Chinese ships acting threateningly and using force to intimidate Vietnamese fisheries surveillance vessels, marine police and fishermen, the country was clearly under threat, he said.

"The Vietnamese government's point of view is very clear. If China does not remove its rig, Viet Nam will take other actions, and this point of view receives support from Vietnamese worldwide," said Nguyen Ba Chung, a researcher at the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

Chung noted that China's act triggered a strong reaction among the overseas Vietnamese community. Among the academic circle in the US, the general opinion was also that China's act was unreasonable. The focus of discussion now was what the US should do to counter China's aggressive move in the East Sea.

The researcher said that as there was no way for Viet Nam to stop similar moves by China in the future, sooner or later Viet Nam would have to take China to an international court.

He added that while China might not appear in court because they know they would lose, at least the world would see very clearly that China was in the wrong, making it difficult for China to continue using its power to bully other countries in the East Sea. — VNS

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