Việt Nam condemns China’s illegal moves, confirms respect for international law in South China Sea

August 06, 2020 - 17:54

Việt Nam called out China on a range of reports alleging China's illegal moves in the South China Sea and the two archipelagos that Việt Nam sees as its own.


Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng at Thursday's press briefing in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Lâm Khánh

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam called out China on a range of reports alleging China's illegal moves in the South China Sea (known in Việt Nam as East Sea) and the two archipelagos that Việt Nam sees as its own.

Responding to queries over China’s recent military movements, including deploying fighter jets and warships to Subi reef in Việt Nam’s Trường Sa (Spratly) Archipelago, but currently occupied by China, foreign ministry spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng stressed that the Hoàng Sa (Paracel) and Trường Sa islands are “inseparable parts of Việt Nam’s territory” during the regular press briefing in Hà Nội on Thursday.

“All activities conducted in these two archipelagos without express permission from Việt Nam constitute serious violations of Việt Nam’s sovereignty,” Hằng said, adding that these moves are invalid and not conducive to the maintenance of peace and stability in the South China Sea (known in Việt Nam as East Sea), a heavily disputed resource-rich waterway with overlapping claims from at least six governments.

“Việt Nam resolutely opposed these activities,” Hằng said.

The spokesperson also said the foreign ministry is discussing with relevant authorities the report of China’s building a surveillance network over the South China Sea, but stressed that all actions concerning the maritime region here must be done with a sense of responsibility and good will.

“We again underline that the maintenance of peace, stability, security, and promotion of development and prosperity in the South China Sea is both a common wish and a responsibility of all parties in the region and the world,” Hằng said.

Previously on Wednesday, Forbes reported that China has been building a series of surveillance platforms as part of the country's so-called “Blue Ocean Information Network” that while bearing outwardly civilian purposes, they could also be used in military contexts.

The Vietnamese spokesperson was also asked for a reaction on China’s recent controversial classification of a stretch of ocean between China’s Hainan island and Việt Nam’s Paracel islands in the South China Sea as “coastal region” rather than offshore, which critics deemed as another move by China to strengthen its claims in the sea here using domestic law.

“China’s act of including the Paracel islands of Việt Nam into its 2020 Technical Rules for the Statutory Testing of Seagoing Vessels on Domestic Voyages has violated Việt Nam’s sovereignty over the island, which is not conducive to maintenance of peace, stability and cooperation in the South China Sea,” Hằng responded, reiterating Việt Nam’s consistent stance on the island that any activity done here without its approval is invalid.

International law

Regarding Australia’s submission of a note verbale to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, a UN body, rejecting “any claims by China that are inconsistent with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” Hằng said that the submission of these kinds of notes submitted by countries within the UN framework to express their views are a “normal practice” in international relations.

“Việt Nam’s consistent view on the South China Sea has been expressed on many occasions,” she continued, adding that Việt Nam believes countries share the common inspiration and goal of maintaining peace and stability, cooperation and development in the South China Sea.

“To this end, it is essential to respect the legal order at the sea and implement in good faith the 1982 UNCLOS,” Hằng said.

“Việt Nam welcomes countries’ positions on the South China Sea that are in line with international laws. We shared the view as stated in the Chairman’s Statement of the 36th ASEAN Summit that the convention of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is the legal framework governing all activities at sea and ocean,” the Vietnamese diplomat said.

“In this spirit, along with other ASEAN countries, Việt Nam hopes that all countries – including ASEAN partner countries – would make efforts to the contributions of peace and stability in the South China Sea, as well as the settlement of disputes via dialogues and other peaceful measures in accordance with international law, the common interests and aspirations of countries in the region and of the international community,” Hằng said.

Việt Nam always make positive contributions to these processes, she concluded.

Earlier in March this year, Việt Nam submitted a similar note to the UN Chief António Guterres denouncing China's expansive claims in the South China Sea that it viewed as "exceeding the limits provided in UNCLOS" and were therefore unlawful. — VNS