China must immediately withdraw its the Haiyang Shiyou-981 rig from Vietnamese waters, Vietnamese defense minister Phung Quang Thanh said Saturday.
“China must join talks with Vietnam in order to maintain peace, stability and friendship between the two countries,” the general said during the 13th International Institute for Strategic Studies' Asia Security Summit, or Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore.
“It will benefit both countries,” he added.
The China’s incursion into Vietnam's exclusive economic zone has sparked public anger and resentment among Vietnamese people at home and abroad as well as special concern around the world, the government website reported.
Since May 1, China has deployed more than 130 ships, including military vessels and planes, to guard the rig which is currently stationed 80 nautical miles inside Vietnam's exclusive economic zone.
Chinese ships have repeatedly attacked, rammed and threatened Vietnamese law enforcement vessels and fishing boats. China even sank a Vietnamese boat with 10 fishermen onboard on May 26.
“Given its role on the United Nations Security Council, and its sheer size, the perverse acts China perpetrated in Vietnamese waters are unacceptable,” the government website said in a statement.
“Big countries need to bear bigger responsibilities in maintaining peace and stability. All acts of bullying and trampling the rights of others will certainly be condemned by the peace-loving peoples of the world,” it said.
At the Shangri-La Dialogue, General Thanh said Vietnam’s policy is to pursue peaceful solutions to the issue based on international laws.
“Under this policy, Vietnam has acted with restraint; we have not used aircraft, missile ships, etc. We have only deployed coast guard vessels and fisheries surveillance ships which haven't deliberately rammed or sprayed water at Chinese ships.”
“In return, we demand that China withdraw its rig from Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone,” he said.
Asked about the role of bilateral relations between national leaders, Thanh said Vietnamese leaders have contacted their Chinese counterparts and requested further meetings
He said Vietnam is hoping to engage in dialogue with China as both are neighbors who enjoy mutually beneficial bilateral trade.
Vietnam and China have faced more difficult problems before, he noted, such as the demarcation of their common land border and their maritime borders in the Bac Bo (Tonkin) Gulf.
All of these disputes have already been resolved.
“Taking legal proceedings is also a peaceful measure that complies with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Charter of the United Nations. But it is a last resort,” he said.
Thanh called for restraint from both sides, adding that bilateral border and territorial disputes between neighboring countries are not rare.
“The media should create an environment to help solve disputes and conflicts peacefully and should not using provocative words to exacerbate tensions or pressure leaders into making decisions,” he said.
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