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Opposition to China's moves mounts
Publication Date : 15-05-2014
Voices of condemnation and concern over China's illegal East Sea actions as well as support for Vietnam's position continued to be raised within and outside the country yesterday.
The Peace Committee and the Peace and Development Foundation of HCM City yesterday strongly protested the illegal positioning of a Chinese oil rig in Vietnam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.
The organisations said China's placement of the Haiyang Shiyou-981 rig and the deployment of many armed vessels and jets in Vietnamese waters was a serious violation of Vietnam's sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the country's territory.
The action contravenes the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, high-ranking agreements between Vietnam and China, and the Asean-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), they said.
Besides, China's actions have complicated the situation in the East Sea, causing instability in the region and negatively impacting the friendship between Vietnam and China, the organisations added.
China illegally placed the rig inside Vietnam's exclusive economic zone earlier this month and has to date sent a large number of vessels of various kinds to the area, including military, coast guard, marine surveillance, marine patrol and fishing ships.
Moreover, Chinese vessels have rammed Vietnamese coast guard ships and fired water cannons at them while the latter were discharging their law enforcement missions in the country's waters. Several Vietnamese ships have been damaged and nine fisheries surveillance officers injured.
Also yesterday, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) voiced its strong protest against Chinese actions.
The VCCI, which represents the Vietnamese business community, described the act as a deliberate violation of Vietnam's sovereignty, directly damaging the country's important political and economic interests as well as impacting maritime security and trade in the region.
It demands that China respects international law and its related commitments, immediately stop all illegal activities and withdraw rig Haiyan Shiyou-981 and all other vessels from Vietnamese waters without delay, and absolutely refrain from similar acts in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam.
The VCCI called on Vietnamese business circles to take substantial actions to support Vietnamese forces and fishermen, who are determined to maintain their missions to safeguard the country's sovereignty and legitimate interests in the East Sea.
It also asked Chinese business circles and the international business community to urge the Chinese government to act with responsibility to ensure stability, security and normal operations of maritime activities and trade in the region.
Meeting with reporters in Hanoi yesterday, Rear Admiral Pascal Ausseur, director for the Asia-Pacific region at the French Defence Ministry's General Directorate for Armament, stressed that stability and development in Asia would contribute to prosperity and security for the world.
Responding to queries about the ongoing tensions in East Sea, the Rear Admiral said the European Union had issued a statement expressing its concern over the Chinese actions.
France was one of the countries involved in drafting the statement, he said, adding that France, like the European community, wanted related parties to solve the matter through peaceful measures.
The rear admiral noted that most of France's trade exchange was with Asia, and a lot of the goods were going through East Sea. Therefore, the region's security is of economic importance for France, he said.
Singapore and several organisations based in Mongolia and the UK have also expressed deep concern over the illegal dispatch of Chinese oil rig Haiyang Shiyou- 981 and ships to Vietnam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.
On Monday, visiting Singaporean Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam told reporters at a press briefing in Washington that Asean did not want tension but progress made on a code of conduct.
Singaporean newspapers reported that Shanmugam and his US counterpart, John Kerry, had called for swifter progress in drafting the COC and urged peaceful settlement of territorial disputes between China and several Asean countries.
The Mongolia-Vietnam Friendship Society said China's actions alarmed neighbours and that they constituted a threat to regional security.
Earlier on Monday, George Howarth, chairman of the UK's All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vietnam, tabled a motion wherein "this House notes the recent incidents in the East Sea/South China Sea; further notes that the activities undertaken by China violate the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Vietnam; and calls on all parties to exercise restraint and use peaceful means, according to relevant international laws, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to attempt to resolve the dispute."
On Tuesday, the London-based Vietnam-UK Network has also expressed concerns over the escalation of tensions in the East Sea following the illegal deployment of Chinese oil rig in Vietnamese waters.
The network called on all parties to respect international law, take measures to reduce tensions and refrain from any unilateral action that could threaten peace and stability in the region.
"We urge the parties to settle disputes through dialogue and other peaceful means in the spirit of friendship and cooperation, in accordance with international law, in particular the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) between Asean and China," a network statement said.
At a meeting in Pretoria on Tuesday, the ambassadors of Asean countries to South Africa voiced their worries over recent tensions in the East Sea.
Vietnamese Ambassador Le Huy Hoang – incumbent Chair of the Asean Pretoria Committee – provided information to the diplomats on the latest developments relating to China's illegal placement of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone.
He said China's act seriously violates international law, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS) as well as the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, to which China itself is a signatory.
Hoang said Vietnam counts on fellow Asean members and the international community to continue their support for the nation's legitimate rights and opposition to China's violations.
He stressed that Vietnam would pursue all peaceful measures in accordance with the United Nations Charter to solve disputes and safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.
The diplomats agreed that Asean members need to bolster their solidarity and determination to ensure peace, stability, safety and maritime freedom in the East Sea, and consider this one of the focal points in the building of an Asean Community.
Constancio R. Vingno, ambassador of the Philippines to Vietnam, told the Vietnam News Agency that China's actions had escalated tensions in the region. He reiterated that East Sea disputes need to be settled peacefully through diplomatic channels and in line with international law, including the 1982 Unclos.
In Laos yesterday, nearly 1,000 Vietnamese residents gathered at a meeting in Vientiane to reprimand China for positioning the oil rig in Vietnam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.