PM affirms Vietnam's sovereignty over Paracel

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Vietnam holds sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands and will assert sovereignty through peaceful measures, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung told the National Assembly Friday.

According to Dung, the country has owned Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos at least since the 17th century, when no other country made interference.

"We asserted sovereignty by peaceful and continuous display of state authority over the islands," he said.

However, in 1956, China illegally occupied several islets in the Paracels. Later, in 1974, China used violence to take the entire archipelago, which was then under the management of the US-backed Republic of Vietnam (1955-1975), although the latter asked for help from the United Nations.

The Provisional Revolutionary Government of Republic of South Vietnam (1969-7976), which represented the revolutionary forces in southern Vietnam during the Vietnam War, at that time also protested the Chinese occupation of the islands.

Dung said that Vietnam currently owns most of the islands of Truong Sa, and is the only country that has residents living there.

Besides the two archipelagos, Dung also said that Vietnam must settle and assert its sovereignty over two other issues on the East Sea.

They include the demarcation of areas beyond the mouth of the Tonkin Gulf, and sovereignty over 200 nautical miles belonging to Vietnam's economic exclusive zone and continental shelf.

Regarding the Tonkin Gulf, Vietnam and China reached agreement on demarcation of the area inside the Gulf in 2000, said Dung.

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For the areas beyond the mouth of the Tonkin Gulf , the two sides have recently signed an agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea issues.

The two countries will negotiate and settle the gulf issue on the basis of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) agreements for a suitable solution acceptable to both sides.

At present, Vietnam is pushing negotiations to settle the issue, he said.

Vietnam is also determined to affirm its sovereignty over 200 nautical miles belonging to Vietnam 's economic exclusive zone and continental shelf under UNCLOS in a more effective manner, Dung said.

In return, Vietnam demands all related parties strictly abide by the international laws, guaranteeing peace, stability, security, and the freedom of sea transport in the East Sea, he reiterated.

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