The spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lê Thị Thu Hằng during Thursday's press briefing in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Lâm Khánh
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam has condemned China’s reported laying of submarine cables in the Hoàng Sa (Paracel) archipelago as illegal and invalid.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng made the statement on Thursday during a briefing in Hà Nội in response to reports from vessel tracking software and satellite imagery indicating a Chinese ship might be conducting installing undersea cables in the area.
“Việt Nam has sufficient historical evidence and legal basis to assert its sovereignty over the Hoàng Sa (Paracel) and Trường Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes in line with international laws,” Hằng said.
All activities conducted related to these two archipelagoes without express approval from Việt Nam constitute serious violations of Việt Nam’s sovereignty and are totally invalid, Hằng said, adding that all countries need to act responsibly, refrain from complicating the situation, and make helpful contributions to security and peace in the South China Sea (referred to as East Sea in Việt Nam).
During the briefing, media also asked about Việt Nam’s reaction to a diplomatic note sent from the US to the UN Secretary General’s office to protest China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea as “inconsistent with international law,” referring to a 2016 arbitral ruling that rejected China’s nine-dash line.
Việt Nam expressed interest in the fact that many UN members have submitted diplomatic notes conveying their stances on the South China Sea, Hằng said, adding that these notes are common practice in the UN.
Việt Nam’s stance on the South China Sea and issues regarding sovereignty, sovereign rights and other maritime rights have been clear, consistent and reiterated multiple times, the spokesperson said.
“The international community along with the United Nations always appreciates its members’ respect for, promotion of and compliance with international law, including UNCLOS 1982,” Hằng said.
US anti-racism protests
Regarding widespread protests in the US over the death of a black man in police custody, Việt Nam’s Government is closely following the situation and shared concerns with the US government and people over the spates of riots and violence that threaten the economy or safety and livelihoods of the people, Hằng said.
Amidst this uncertain background, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has instructed its mission in the US to stay updated on the protests and to keep in touch with the Vietnamese community in the US to carry out citizen protection measures when needed.
Earlier, the Vietnamese embassy in the US recommended Vietnamese citizens avoid travelling to protest areas and to strictly observe local authorities’ regulations.
Vietnamese citizens are asked to contact local police and the Vietnamese representative agency in the US should they require assistance.
So far, there have been no reports of Vietnamese citizens being affected by the ongoing protests.
Ready for EVFTA
Việt Nam is ready to implement Europe-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and Europe-Việt Nam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA), Hằng said, adding that the EVFTA is slated to take effect starting this August after both Vietnamese and EU parliaments ratified the deal, while the EVIPA still awaits approval from EU members.
The two deals will help promote Asia-Europe ties and investment and business activities, enhance economic liberalisation based on transparency and equity, Hằng said.
EU was the biggest export market of Việt Nam after the US in 2019, with total import-export turnover reaching US$56.4 billion.
The EVFTA, the EU's most ambitious trade deal with a developing economy, is expected to help Việt Nam’s GDP increase by 2.2-3.3 per cent in the first five years after taking effect. — VNS