|Spokesperson for Việt Nam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lê Thị Thu Hằng. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam on Sunday said it "categorically" denounced China’s decision to establish so-called Xisha and Nansha districts to govern over Việt Nam’s islands of Hoàng Sa (Paracel) and Trường Sa (Spratly), respectively.
Việt Nam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng made the statement on Sunday after Chinese state media reported on the Chinese State Council’s decision to set up the two administrative regions under the so-called Sansha City in Hainan Province, stoking instability in the hotly contested South China Sea (known as East Sea in Việt Nam).
“Việt Nam has repeatedly and strongly reaffirmed the fact that Việt Nam has sufficient historical and legal evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Hoàng Sa (Paracel) and Trường Sa (Spratly) islands,” Hằng said.
"Việt Nam’s consistent viewpoint is categorically repudiating China’s establishment of the two districts under the country’s southernmost province of Hainan," Hằng said, stressing that the moves constitute “serious violations” of Việt Nam’s sovereignty, have no legal validity and will not be recognised.
The decisions also run counter to the friendship between China and Việt Nam and only serve to further complicate the situation in the East Sea, in the region and in the world at large, according to the Vietnamese spokesperson.
Việt Nam demanded that China respect Việt Nam’s sovereignty, abolish the offending decisions and refrain from committing similar moves in the future, Hằng said.
China Global Television Network (CGTN) under Chinese State-owned CCTV noted on April 18 that the so-called Sansha City “covers nearly two million sq.km, but including only around 20 sq.km of land area” and that it currently has some 1,800 “permanent residents".
The ASEAN bloc and China are in the middle of negotiations for a Code of Conduct in the East Sea in a bid to reduce tensions in the decades-long dispute involving five ASEAN members and China.
In 2016, the Hague-based international arbitration court issued a landmark “final and without appeal” verdict rejecting the legal bases for China’s overreaching claims over most of the East Sea. — VNS