|President Truong Tan Sang spoke to the Vietnam News Agency yesterday about China's East Sea actions. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Khang
China's illegal placement of oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 in Viet Nam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone is raising world indignation. State President Truong Tan Sang has quoted an ancient Vietnamese King's words as an indication that the nation will never ease up on the issue. Sang granted an interview to the Viet Nam News Agency on the issue.
What is the state of Viet Nam-China relations now that China has placed an oil rig in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf?
On May 2, China illegally placed its rig within Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. It has unilaterally violated a high-level bilateral agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues and international law, including the United Nations Charter, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC).
The Party, State and people of Viet Nam strive to strengthen friendship between the people of Viet Nam and China. We want to maintain peace and stability for national development, as Viet Nam has suffered huge losses and devastation after several decades of war. At the same time we expect China to do the same.
As I said to voters in HCM City just after the start of the incident, we will not accept it when any country, regardless of how strong it is, forces us to concede the sacred territory and sovereignty of our fatherland. Viet Nam has sufficient historical and legal evidence proving our sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, and the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in line with international law. We are determined to protect every inch of our land or sea from violation. For every Vietnamese, national territorial sovereignty is sacred and sacrosanct.
How did the Party Central Committee respond to the incident at its recent ninth session?
The ninth session of the 11th Party Central Committee spent considerable time debating this issue. The committee and the Politburo have always said that the territorial sovereignty of the nation is sacred and cannot be conceded. The Vietnamese people, Party and State have enough will and resolve as well as a sufficient historical and legal basis to fight to safeguard our national sovereignty.
It is unacceptable that strong countries can defy morality and justice. Our people have gone through wars and fought bravely against invaders for thousands of years. Following the recent incident, few countries or international organisations have voiced support for China's action in siting the rig in Viet Nam's waters and its irrational nine-dot territorial claim.
Legal and historical evidence shows that justice is on our side. The world community has a fairly clear attitude towards this.
What is your assessment of the patriotism of Vietnamese and their way of expressing it now?
Our people have an ardent patriotic tradition. Every time the country's independence and sovereignty are threatened, Vietnamese people always unite as one to defend the Fatherland.
I am deeply moved by and respect the noble sentiment of our compatriots and comrades. All people as one look towards the East Sea. Fishermen bravely stay on the front line at sea despite the threat and intimidation from Chinese ships, even when one fishing boat was sunk.
They stay in their traditional fishing grounds where generations of Vietnamese have fished, refusing to yield. Viet Nam's law enforcement forces never give in. People throughout the country express their patriotism in various creative ways. Vietnamese all over the world also voice their strong protest against China's illegal act.
We are resolved to defend our sovereignty by peaceful measures on the basis of international law. However, we should be vigilant against provocative words and acts. When the country faces difficulties and challenges, we should unite more than ever. It is obvious that division and provocation cannot help the country overcome challenges.
Viet Nam-China economic ties are an issue of great interest for the public. Many people say Viet Nam might become dependent on China economically. What do you think?
It's been nearly 30 years since Viet Nam began the Doi Moi (renewal) policy, and we have been consistent in following integration into the world economy. Under this policy, our country has established trade and investment relations with more than 200 countries and territories.
We have followed the motto of being a friend and a reliable and responsible partner in the international community, co-existing peacefully with all nations. We always strive for mutual benefit and resolutely avoid becoming dependent on any country, both economically or politically.
With this external relations policy, Viet Nam has made many achievements, promoting national development and improving the people's living standards. However, we should frankly admit that this policy has not been carried out well in some fields, thus negatively affecting the economy.
Our economic and trade ties with China have seen a rapid development over recent years, but Viet Nam's trade deficit has been growing, particularly in the import of materials for production. Some of our exports have focused too much on the Chinese market.
In the field of bidding for EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction), BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) and equipment supply contracts in a number of important economic sectors, such as power, information and telecommunications, Chinese investors won a large number of contracts, but the quality and technology of many such contracts are not high while costs usually inflate and the time of implementation is prolonged.
This situation needs to be corrected as early as possible.
An issue of great public concern is what policy and solutions the Party and State have taken in response to China's rig?
Immediately after China illegally positioned its rig deep inside Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, the Party Central Committee and the Politburo drafted out guidelines to deal with the incident. On the one hand, we firmly demand that China remove the rig out of our country's waters; on the other hand, we patiently try to maintain a peaceful environment for national construction and neighbourliness.
Agencies of the Party, State, the National Assembly, the Government and the entire political system have joined the fight, conducting the diplomatic struggle both bilaterally and multilaterally and carrying out activities at the site through civilian law-enforcement forces.
At the same time we have provided regular and truthful information to help people have a clear understanding of what is going on. We have always employed peaceful measures and requested China to show its good will to solve the problem by peaceful means in line with international law and agreements between China and ASEAN, and between China and Viet Nam.
Legal measures will be used when necessary to safeguard our country's sovereignty and territory.
The struggle to defend national independence, sovereignty, national unification and territorial integrity will be long and hard, requiring us to have resolve and, at the same time, calmness and patience in order to be successful.
Our Party and State are undertaking policies and measures to meet the just aspirations of more than 90 million Vietnamese. I would like to quote here the words that King Le Thanh Tong once said to his royal court, which were recorded in Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu (The Complete Annals of Dai Viet): "How can we abandon even a single inch of our mountain, our river? You must firmly stand your ground, not letting them gradually encroach. If they do not listen, we can send our envoys to the north to clarify justice. If you dare to concede even a single inch of the land of our ancestors to the enemy, it will be a crime deserving of death." — VNS