Vietnam to take measures to protect sovereignty
  • By Bich Diep-Phuc Hung | | May 06, 2014 08:47 PM
 >>  Vietnam opposes illegal foreign activities in its waters

Vietnam will take strong measures to safeguard the interests of local enterprises following China’s illegal drilling in Vietnamese waters, said Do Thang Hai, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Trade.


China National Offshore Oil Corporation has operated its drilling rig HD-981 illegally in Vietnamese waters

At the ministry’s regular meeting on May 5, deputy minister Do Thang Hai said the ministry has instructed the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) to send an official report on the case to the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). They also sent a request that China cease drilling activities in Vietnamese waters.

“China has repeatedly made provocative actions that infringe upon Vietnamese sovereign waters, and this may continue in the future,” said the deputy minister. He added that this does not concern only the Ministry of Industry and Trade, but the entire country.

"Top party and state leaders will undoubtedly have to take drastic measures to protect national sovereignty and the legitimate rights of local enterprises," he noted.

The China Maritime Safety Administration made a statement on May 3 pronouncing that the drilling rig HD-981 has been operating in a location within Vietnamese territory from May 2 to August 15.

Le Hai Binh, Spokesman of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, affirmed that the location of the drilling rig is within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, about 120 nautical miles from the coast. 

China’s new escalation in the East Sea

The former Vietnamese consul general in Guangzhou Province, Duong Danh Y, said on May 5 that China’s illegal drilling shows an escalation on its attempted infringement on the East Sea and is designed to overtake Vietnamese sovereignty and step up petroleum exploration in violation of international law.

He added that such behaviour by the China is not surprising at a time when both the US and Russia are preoccupied with Ukraine. 

The US also announced that it would defend the Senkaku Islands and cooperate with the Philippines, Malaysia and South Korea. In this context, it appears that China would move towards the East Sea instead.

According to many experts, China’s illegal drilling is also aimed to force smaller regional countries to accept its initiative to “set aside disputes and pursue joint development”.

“I think that Vietnamese leaders understand that this is a trick by China, whose endgame is to appropriate Vietnam’s Spratly Islands. We must take strong actions to protect our legitimate rights recognised by international law,” said Duong Danh Y.

He warned that, “If we are not strict and strong, China may become more aggressive, and may even send personnel to unnamed islands of the Spratly archipelego for long-term occupation.”

It is important for Vietnam to take advantage of the public opinion, larger countries and ASEAN members to fight against China’s illegal actions, he said adding that Vietnam should shift its focus to raising awareness of sovereignty issues of citizens, overseas Vietnamese and the international community.

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