Vietnam on Friday welcomes a resolution passed by the US Senate, which called on China to withdraw an oil rig and associated maritime forces from their current positions in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone in the East Sea.
Le Hai Binh, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the resolution (S.RES.412) reaffirms the strong support of the US for freedom of navigation and other internationally lawful uses of sea and airspace in the Asia-Pacific region, and for the peaceful diplomatic resolution of outstanding territorial and maritime claims and disputes.
“Vietnam hopes nations inside and outside the region, including the US, will continue to make strong, practical, effective and constructive contributions to peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the region,” Binh said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Le Hai Binh at a press briefing July 11. Photo credit: Vietnam News Agency.
According to the resolution, which was passed unanimously at the US Senate on July 10, on May 1, China's state-owned energy company, CNOOC, placed the deepwater semi-submersible drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 (HD-981), accompanied by over 25 Chinese ships, in Block 143 -- 120 nautical miles off Vietnam's coastline, the resolution stated.
By May 9, the number of Chinese vessels escorting the rig had increased to more than 80, including seven military ships, which aggressively patrolled and intimidated Vietnamese Coast Guard ships, reportedly intentionally rammed multiple Vietnamese vessels, and used helicopters and water cannons to obstruct others, according to the resolution.
China's territorial claims and associated maritime actions in support of the drilling activity that HD-981 commenced on May 1 have not been clarified under international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and constitute a unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force, and appear to be in violation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
The resolution calls on China to withdraw its drilling rig and associated maritime forces from their current positions, refrain from maritime maneuvers contrary to the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, and return to the status quo as it existed before May 1, 2014.