|Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lê Thị Thu Hằng. — Photo from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam always welcomes the stance of any country regarding the South China Sea (known in Việt Nam as the East Sea) that are in line with international law, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lê Thị Thu Hằng said on Thursday.
Hằng made the statement during yesterday's press briefing, held virtually due to the new clusters of COVID-19 community cases in Hà Nội, when asked for Việt Nam’s response to the recent UK-Japan statement regarding the South China Sea.
“Việt Nam always welcomes the stance of any country regarding the South China Sea (known in Việt Nam as the East Sea) which are in line with international law, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), and that share the viewpoint stated in the declarations of the 36th ASEAN Summit and the 53th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting reaffirming that the 1982 UNCLOS is the legal framework governing all activities at sea,” Hằng said.
“With that spirit, together with ASEAN member countries, Việt Nam hopes that all countries – including ASEAN partners – will have meaningful contributions to the maintenance of peace, stability and cooperation in the South China Sea, as well as the resolution of disputes via dialogues and other peaceful measures, as provided by the 1982 UNCLOS, for the sake of common benefits and in line with the aspirations of the countries in the region and in the international community,” the Vietnamese diplomat remarked.
Việt Nam always has proactive and responsible contributions to this process, she stressed.
“All peoples and the international community have the common benefit in promoting and maintaining peace, stability, development in the South China Sea. Respecting the legal order at sea and the full compliance of the 1982 UNCLOS in good will is critical,” the spokesperson underlined.
Earlier on Wednesday, four ministers from Japan and the UK voiced serious concern about the situation in the South China Sea and East China Sea and noted their opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo.
The joint statement was issued after an online meeting of Japanese foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi and defence minister Nobuo Kishi of Japan, and their respective British counterparts Dominic Raab and Ben Wallace.
The Japanese and UK ministers reaffirmed the importance of upholding freedom of navigation and overflight above the South China Sea and urged all parties to exercise self-restraint and refrain from activities that threaten to heighten tensions, the statement reads.
Asked on the UK’s plan to deploy the carrier group led by the HMS Queen Elizabeth to the Indo-Pacific later this year and ‘leaving open the possibility of entering the South China Sea’ which could signify the country’s more assertive stance, Hằng said Việt Nam supports the maintenance of freedom of navigation and overflight, and the upholding of the rule of law in the seas and oceans, in line with 1982 UNCLOS.
“All activities conducted by parties in the South China Sea should be contributing towards these goals,” the Vietnamese diplomat noted.
Regarding China’s new coast guard law that entered into force on February 1 – which controversially allows the Chinese coast guards to use weapons on foreign actors at sea when they deem national sovereignty or jurisdiction are being violated, Hằng said that any country has the responsibility to observe international laws and agreements that they are a part of – especially 1982 UNCLOS – in the promulgation and implementation of domestic laws regarding the seas.
She also reiterated that Việt Nam has sufficient historical evidence and legal basis to assert its sovereignty over the Trường Sa (Spratly) and Hoàng Sa (Paracel) islands in line with international law – as well as sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over the seas based on the 1982 UNCLOS.
She added that Việt Nam is “determined and persistent” in pursuing measures that are in line with international law to protect its legitimate and legal rights.
Việt Nam asks that all other countries respect the country’s sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in the South China Sea, and should refrain from activities that threaten to escalate the situation.
Responding to queries on the reports of a surface-to-air missile base being constructed in Ningming County in southwestern Guangxi, China, some 20km away from the border with Việt Nam, Hằng said the authorities will verify the information.
Regarding the UK’s official request to commence UK accession talks to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Hằng said as a member of the pact, Việt Nam supports the UK in strengthening economic and trade relations and stands ready to share information and experience in joining the pact with the UK. — VNS