Vietnam demands China withdraw oil rig from its water

By * AN DIEN contributed to this report., Thanh Nien News

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A Chinese drilling rig (in circle) is located well inside Vietnam's exclusive economic zone. Photo courtesy of PetroVietnam
The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has protested the illegal foray of China's deep-water drilling rig into Vietnamese waters.
Any foreign drilling operation conducted in Vietnamese waters without express permission is illegal; Vietnam strongly protests it, the ministry’s spokesperson Le Hai Binh said in a statement posted on a government website Sunday.
On May 3, the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration announced that the rig HD-981 would drill in a location of 15 degrees and 29’58’’ North latitude and 111 degrees and 12’06’’ East longitude from May 2 to August 15.
Binh said that the location lies well within the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam, some 120 nautical miles from the Vietnamese coast.
“Vietnam has historical evidence and legal ground to prove its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos as well as the sovereign right and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in accordance with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he said.
On Sunday, the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (Petro Vietnam) sent a letter to the director of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) asking that the company withdraw the oil rig from Vietnamese waters.
Extracting mineral resources from Vietnamese waters violates the cooperative spirit between the two national oil and gas groups as well as international protocol on oil and gas extraction and bilateral friendship and cooperation guidelines, it said.
Petro Vietnam also asked  that CNOOC never take similar action in the future.
China may soon build a military facility on the Gac Ma (Johnson South) Reef in a move that would further increase tensions in the East Sea, also known as the South China Sea.
Military experts said that the People's Liberation Army Navy may soon construct a new airfield on Johnson South Reef to increase its force projection ability over the South China Sea region, Want China Times reported Sunday.
Strong Vietnamese action urged
Carl Thayer, a maritime expert with the University of New South Wales in Australia said that it is “business as usual in China’s use of illegal force to advance its sovereignty claims.”
“China’s latest move will increase tensions. It was unexpected because it attempts to alter the status quo. It is another Chinese violation" of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), he told Thanh Nien News.
“Don’t listen to what China says, watch what it does.”
Thayer said that aside from diplomatic protests, Vietnam could deploy patrols to its continental shelf as an assertion of its sovereignty and jurisdiction over the area; the move would inform Southeast Asian countries of this development and the steps its is taking.
China and four  members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei all claim territory in the South China Sea. China's claim is the largest, covering most of the sea's 648,000 square miles (1.7 million square km), a move that has been emphatically rejected by international scholars.
Historian Nguyen Nha, who has dedicated his life to historical research proving Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos, said a country disregarding international laws affects the entire world order .

“Unlike in the 20th century, if there is a war in the 21st century, there will be thousands of nuclear bombs and chemical weapons involved. Thus, I think humanity should maintain the world order to protect its very existence,” he said.

Any violent incident will benefit no one and the aggressor will suffer the greatest damage because the international [community] will not accept its actions, he said.
“Thus, Vietnam must be determined to protect its rights and sovereignty according to international law and the world will support us. Vietnam is not alone.

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