China's new island law means nothing to Vietnam

TN News

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Vietnam has dismissed a new law passed by China to protect islands saying it will have no impact on the disputed Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagoes.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Nguyen Phuong Nga, said Tuesday that Vietnam has confirmed its sovereignty over the two archipelagoes many times.

"Any activities by other countries, including issuing legal regulations concerning the archipelagoes as well as Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in the East Sea, are not legitimate," the ministry's website quoted her as saying.

The standing committee of China's National People's Congress passed December 26 the Island Protection Law to develop the country's islands economically and strengthen their protection.

The law was first drafted in June and has since undergone several amendments.

While Vietnam has kept collecting historical evidence of its sovereignty over the archipelagoes, China has repeatedly arrested Vietnamese fishermen and seized their boats off Hoang Sa, most recently on December 8.

"Vietnam is concerned that China has often arrested Vietnamese fishermen when they were fishing legally in Vietnamese waters," Nga said, demanding that China should return the boats and other assets to the fishermen.

In 2009, the Chinese captured 17 Vietnamese fishing boats and took in 210 fishermen off Quang Ngai Province's Ly Son and Binh Son districts while they were fishing or sheltering from storms off Hoang Sa archipelagoes, according to the provincial coast guard.

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