Foreign ministry spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng. — Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam has issued a note to China to protest an illegal military drill conducted on islands that rightfully belong to Việt Nam.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng informed the media of the action on Thursday during a press briefing held in Hà Nội.
“Việt Nam has had exchanges with the Chinese side and has issued a diplomatic note protesting the move and requesting China do not repeat this action in the future,” Hằng said.
The military drill is reportedly being held from July 1-5 around Việt Nam’s Hoàng Sa (Paracel Islands) in the South China Sea (known as East Sea in Việt Nam), a large part of the island chain China seized control of illegally by force from Việt Nam in the 1970s.
"The drill constitutes a serious violation of Việt Nam's sovereignty, complicated the situation, impaired the ongoing negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea between ASEAN and China, and undermined the maintenance of peace, security and co-operation in the East Sea," the Vietnamese diplomat said.
Previously, China also announced the establishment of administrative districts in the East Sea to govern over both Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa (Spratly) islands, which also met with a rebuke from Việt Nam.
Responding to reports of the recent entry of China's survey ship Hai Yang 4 into Việt Nam's exclusive economic zone, Hằng stressed all surveying and exploration activities must be conducted with the approval of Việt Nam, in line with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The spokesperson also said that during July 1's online consultation between Chinese and ASEAN senior officials, the two sides committed to resuming talks on the COC, which had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as soon as conditions allow.
US ties anniversary
Regarding the upcoming 25th anniversary of the normalisation of relations between the US and Việt Nam on July 11-12, both sides have organised many activities in both Việt Nam and the US to commemorate this, Hằng said.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, events and activities such as delegation exchanges, conferences, forums on bilateral trade, as well as other economic and trade promotion activities, were affected, she added.
The two countries were determined to hold anniversary events with "flexible formats", Hằng said.
A quarter-century after the normalisation of diplomatic ties and six years since the setting up of a comprehensive partnership, relations between Việt Nam and the US have improved in both bilateral and multilateral frameworks.
"In the coming time, the two sides will further co-operation to deepen Việt Nam-US ties, contributing to the maintenance of peace, security, co-operation and development in the region as well as the world," Hằng said.
Stability in Hong Kong
Responding to questions on Việt Nam's reactions to China's adoption of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region late in June, Hằng said Việt Nam is watching the situation in Hong Kong with interest.
"Việt Nam respects and supports China's one country two systems policy, the Basic Law of Hong Kong and other related mechanisms. Hong Kong issues are China's internal affairs," the Vietnamese diplomat said, adding that Việt Nam always wants stability and prosperity in Hong Kong, to live up to its status as an important financial hub of the region and the world. — VNS