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Paracels may not be China's goal

Update: June, 13/2014 - 08:28
Chinese vessels carry out work on the Gac Ma Reef in the Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago in the East Sea (far left). An editorial published in the Vietnamese Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper has claimed the tensions stirred by the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 has been a Chinese tactic to draw attention away from its development of military bases in the Spratly island group. — Photo laodong.com.vn

HA NOI (VNS) — Chinese ships yesterday continued to encircle Vietnamese fishing surveillance vessels and then retreat, apparently to make it look like the Chinese were being rammed.

According the Viet Nam fishing surveillance department, this would explain why Chinese cameramen kept filming the action.

Also in the news was an editorial by the Vietnamese Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper claiming that the month-long tension over the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 was a Chinese tactic to draw attention away from its development of military bases in the Spratly island group further south.

China has maintained a large number of coastguard vessels, cargo ships, tugboats and warships around the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981, which is illegally stationed in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

Yesterday, about 35 fishing ships from China, backed by coastguard vessels, kept interrupting and driving off Vietnamese fishing boats operating in their traditional fishing grounds about 40 nautical miles from the rig.

Meanwhile, China's coastguard again formed circles around Vietnamese vessels about seven to 11 nautical miles from the rig.

Despite being hit with water cannons and continually rammed, Viet Nam's fishing surveillance and fishing ships stayed in the area.

The real game

In an editorial yesterday, Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper argued that analysis by researchers and experts showed that China was conspiring to monopolise the East Sea and that the oil rig was a move to test Viet Nam's reaction and international opinion.

"The oil rig is not only a test for reactions or the hunt for oil, it's a malevolent conspiracy by China," the newspaper said.

The paper said that China, in fact, wanted to draw international attention away from its illegal construction of military bases in Gac Ma (Johnson South) and Chu Thap (Fiery Cross) reefs, which belong to the Truong Sa (Spratlys) archipelago.

Lao Dong said the oil rig was a diversionary pawn posing little threat. "The military bases being built quickly in Gac Ma and Chu Thap are the castles on the chess board that pose bigger threats," it said.

Self restraint

The Foreign Affairs Committee of Japan's House of Representatives has issued a resolution calling on China to show self restraint in the waters surrounding the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.

The resolution states that China's unilateral exploration of oil in the vicinity of Hoang Sa archipelago and announcement of a ship exclusion zone had prolonged disputes between Viet Nam and China and escalated tensions in the East Sea.

The document also said the intimidation, coercion and use of force to claim territory was unacceptable.

The committee said that not only Japan, but also the whole international community cared about peace and stability in the East Sea.

It said it was vital to settle disputes through peaceful measures and dialogue.

The committee also asked the Japanese Government to strengthen its ties with the US and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and call on all parties to avoid unilateral acts that could raise tensions. -

Groups speak out

The Viet Nam Union of Geological Sciences (VUGS) and the Viet Nam Cinematography Association (VCA) have strongly condemned China's "illegal act in placing the Haiyang-Shiyou 981 oil rig in Viet Nam's waters".

In a statement issued yesterday, VUGS claimed that China's move seriously violated Viet Nam's sovereign right and jurisdiction in the East Sea and international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), of which both countries were members.

It said the action also ran counter to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) signed between China and ASEAN member nations in 2002.

The union strongly supported the country's consistent stance in solving disputes by peaceful measures in line with international law, saying that all demands without legal basis, particularly using force to infringe on another country's sovereignty was unacceptable.

It called on its Chinese counterpart, the International Union of Geological Sciences, the ASEAN Federation of Engineering Organisations and Chinese geologists to request China respect international law, contributing to preserving peace and stability in the region and the world.

Meanwhile, the cinematography association said China's perverse move seriously affected the trust between the two countries. It said it vehemently opposed China's action and demanded it remove the rig and surrounding ships out of Viet Nam's waters and strictly respect international law.

It asked artists across the country to compose works to raise public awareness of sea and island sovereignty and vigorously hold China to account for its unlawful actions in Viet Nam's waters.

Earlier, the Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) strongly condemned China's violent acts targeting Vietnamese fishermen within Viet Nam waters, at the International Labour Organisation conference in Geneva.

In a speech to the conference on Tuesday sitting, VGCL President Dang Ngoc Tung spoke in detail about China's acts in violation of international law.

He particularly objected to China's "inhuman acts" against Vietnamese fishermen going about their regular operations, adding that Chinese ships had repeatedly driven off or rammed Vietnamese fishing boats, damaging many and injuring many on board.

More seriously, Chinese forces beat and injured many Vietnamese fishermen, even sinking a Vietnamese fishing vessel. — VNS

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