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China aims to set record straight in row with Vietnam

Publication Date : 11-06-2014


Beijing's efforts to garner support at the United Nations in its territorial row with Hanoi reflect its maturing diplomacy as well as its determination to clarify facts and defend interests, observers said.

In a rare move, Wang Min, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, handed a position paper to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday.

Wang asked Ban to circulate the paper, which includes an article from the Foreign Ministry detailing its stance, among all 193 members of the General Assembly.

"Previously we seldom take maritime territorial rows to the international arena, but this time China is determined to make the facts clear," said Luo Yongkun, a researcher on Southeast Asian studies with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

He added that Beijing's efforts to take the row to the UN are a signal of "its diplomacy getting mature".

"We have strong proof of sovereignty over the region and have done a lot benefiting countries in the region. However, we seldom talk about that on international sites, as some countries do, so few are aware of that," he said.

"It's not only about the row with Vietnam, but also about defending China's national image," Luo added.

Vietnam has sent notes to the UN about the dispute, harshly criticizing China and hinting at the possibility of seeking international arbitration, which Beijing said it would never accept.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday that she hoped the news media can understand the aim of Hanoi in hyping the row.

The Chinese note handed to the UN accused Vietnam of ramming Chinese vessels more than 1,400 times near a Chinese oil rig in the South China Sea recently.

It said China National Offshore Oil Corp has been conducting seismic operations and well site surveys in the area for the past 10 years, and the drilling operation "is a continuation of the routine process of exploration and falls well within China's sovereignty and jurisdiction".

The operation area is 17 nautical miles (31 kilometers) from the baseline of the territorial waters of China's Xisha Islands, and between 133 and 156 nautical miles (246 to 289 km) from the coast of Vietnam.

"Vietnam also sent frogmen and other underwater agents to the area, and dropped large numbers of obstacles, including fishing nets and floating objects, in the waters," the paper said.

It said Vietnam's actions violated China's sovereignty, posed "grave threats" to Chinese personnel on the rig and violated international laws including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

"China sent the note to tell the international community the truth and set straight their understanding on the issue," Wang said after delivering the position paper.

However, he called for maritime disputes to be settled through negotiation between the parties directly involved.

Chen Xiangyang, another researcher at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said Beijing's move is a "justifiable defense" against Hanoi's provocation at the UN.

He said that on this issue, China also has to fight the biased reports of Western media and some countries taking sides with Vietnam regardless of the history and facts.

Tensions over the oil rig sparked violent anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam last month that killed four Chinese citizens and injured more than 300.


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