Vietnam demands halt to China zoning plan in East Sea

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China should abandon its plans to zone the East Sea into seven areas for various activities, including Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagos, foreign ministry spokesperson Luong Thanh Nghi has said.

The plan, announced by the Chinese State Oceanic Administration April 19, is an "egregious violation of Vietnam's sovereignty over the two archipelagos and sovereignty rights and national jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf," he told correspondents at a press conference in Hanoi Tuesday.

It also violates the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the East Sea, he stressed.

"China needs to cancel the plan, strictly follow the DOC, and not undertake any further actions that could complicate the East Sea situation."

A report on Tuoi Tre Wednesday quoted a Chinese news website as saying that China's plan aimed to create protected areas, build public works on the archipelagos, and launch aquaculture, fishing, and oil exploration activities.

Last month, Nghi had demanded that China call off its plans for and around Hoang Sa, including a boat race on March 28 and a Hainan Province tourism development project.

In related news, Tran Ngoc Nguyen, chairman of the Ly Son District People's Committee in the central province of Quang Ngai, was quoted as saying that the 21 local fishermen who were arrested by Chinese forces on March 3 and released on April 20 had suffered losses of VND900 million (US$43,200).

One of their two boats was still being held by the Chinese, he said.

Dan Viet (Vietnamese People), the news website of the Vietnam Farmers' Union, quoted the fishermen as saying that during their incarceration all 21 were held captive in a 40-square-meter room and not given enough food.

The Chinese also beat and electrocuted them to force them to pay ransoms, they said.

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