|China's largest-ever oceanographic research and training vessel "Sun Yat-sen University" is seen off the coast of Shanghai, June 26, 2021. — Photo from CGTN|
HÀ NỘI — All research activities in the Hoàng Sa (Paracel) islands without Việt Nam’s express permission are illegal, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lê Thị Thu Hằng, said at a press briefing on Thursday.
It has been reported that China plans to deploy one of its "largest-ever" oceanographic research and training vessels, named the Sun Yat-sen University, in October of this year.
The vessel, characterised as “a mobile laboratory at sea” took some 20 months to complete. It is set to sail to the Hoàng Sa islands (which is called 'Xisha Islands' by China) in the disputed South China Sea area on the first stop of 'a scientific research mission', China Global Television Network (CGTN) has reported.
“As we have reiterated many times, Việt Nam has sufficient legal grounds and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Trường Sa and Hoàng Sa islands. Vietnam has lawful rights over these waters which is provided by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” Hằng said.
The Vietnamese diplomat stressed that all research activities, surveying, and scientific exploration conducted in the Trường Sa and Hoàng Sa islands, without Việt Nam’s approval, constitutes a “violation of the sovereignty and relevant rights of Việt Nam, and is therefore illegal and null and void."
Female coast guard officers
At the press conference the role of women in the Vietnamese coast guard was also raised following reports of Philippines’ deployment of female radio operator officers to the crews patrolling the South China Sea – known as “Angels of the Sea” – to help soften the tension with foreign ships and maintain peace.
“The Vietnamese State and Communist Party have made every effort to improve Việt Nam’s policies and laws to ensure gender equality and women's empowerment," Hằng said in response to question over Việt Nam's plan with female officer coast guards.
"We strive to enable women to gain greater access to, and participate in, all aspects of social and political life. This includes enhancing the role of women in the armed forces,”
“Việt Nam’s female coast guard officers have taken on diverse range of positions and successfully fulfilled their assigned missions. They have contributed to the realisation of political commitments of the Party and State of Việt Nam. Việt Nam is a responsible member of the international community and stands ready to address international issues and sustain an environment of peace, security, and stability for cooperation and development in the region and in the world more broadly”.— VNS