Thanh Nien talks to Li Linghua, a retired researcher from China’s National Maritime Information Center, who has objected to China's claim to most of the East Sea (AKA, the South China Sea), including Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands.
Do you think Vietnam and China can settle the East Sea disputes via peaceful measures?
Yes, I believe so. I hope the two countries can settle the dispute in peace and I believe this dispute [i.e. the China’s deployment of a giant oil rig into Vietnamese waters] can be settled. I hope the two countries’ peoples can maintain their friendship forever.
We see you updated your blog with opinions on the East Sea disputes on May 1, 6, 10 and 11.
Yes. I hope foreign media, including Vietnamese media, can report the [East] disputes objectively, while at the same time maintaining your friendly attitude towards the Chinese people.
On my blog, I have repeatedly said that sovereignty over the islands, as provided in Article 121 of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), remains unclear, and no authoritative ruling or consensus on its interpretation has yet emerged. Therefore, countries in the [East] Sea can only delimit maritime border lines, or deploy oil exploration or fishing activities via peaceful talks and consultancies to ensure a win-win situation.
Do you think China must respect 1982 UNCLOS?
Yes, as a signatory to the 1982 UNCLOS, China must comply with articles 74 and 83 of the convention, respecting the continental shelf and exclusive economic zone 200 nautical miles from adjacent coasts.
What about Vietnam?
I believe Vietnam has enough experts on international sea law and its own maritime researchers. The modern international sea laws have made progress in defining territorial waters, realizing legal status of islands and such.
As you may have read recently, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said he believes the [East] Sea disputes can be settled peacefully and the two countries can maintain friendship and cooperation.
I support his idea. Vietnamese-Chinese relations should be nurtured and developed.
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