Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (L) speaks at the 24th ASEAN summit in Myanmar May 11, where he enlists international support in protesting against China's stationing of an oil rig in Vietnamese waters. Photo by Thuc Minh
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Sunday lambasted China's stationing of an oil rig in the waters over which Vietnam claims sovereignty at a regional summit in Myanmar, saying the move "seriously threatens" international freedom of navigation.
"Vietnam has acted with the utmost restraint, exhibited all goodwill, and used all diplomatic channels at all levels to protest and demand China withdraw its oil rig and military vessels out of Vietnamese waters," Dung said at the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Nay Pyi Taw, the new capital of Myanmar.
"However, China has failed to meet those demands of late. Worse still, China has constantly stepped up its dangerous and serious violations," Dung said in his speech.
Dung told the summit that since May 1 China has deployed roughly 80 military and armed ships and aircraft to guard the giant mobile rig that is located well-within Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone under the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS 1982).
Chinese boats "aggressively" rammed and fired water cannons at Vietnamese vessels, damaging the ships and injuring many Vietnamese fisheries surveillance officers, Dung said.
He said it was the first time China "brazenly" deployed an oil rig deep into the waters of an ASEAN state member, calling it a serious violation of international laws, the UNCLOS and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea 2002 to which China is a signatory.
Vietnam honors its relationship with China and always wishes to solve any conflicts peacefully, based on mutual respect and people’s interests, he said.
"However, Vietnam resolutely protests those violations and will take all necessary measures to defend its sovereignty and legitimate interests in the East Sea in accordance with international laws", Dung said.
"Peace, stability, security, and freedom and safety of navigation and aviation in the East Sea -- the common interest of ASEAN, the region, and the world -- is under serious threat."
He urged ASEAN member states and the world community to object to the Chinese stationing of the oil rig and stand by Vietnam's legitimate demands and interests.
Southeast Asian foreign ministers on Saturday expressed concerns about a rise in territorial tensions in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea.
They called on all parties including China to show “self-restraint” after Chinese and Vietnamese ships collided in the Paracels Islands, which Vietnam calls Hoang Sa and claims sovereignty over.
China and four members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei all claim territory in the East Sea. China's claim is the largest, covering most of the sea's 648,000 square miles (1.7 million square km), a claim that has been emphatically rejected by international scholars.
The ASEAN summit opened Saturday after Vietnam and the Philippines became embroiled in new territorial conflicts with China this week, highlighting the lingering disputes over the resource and oil-rich waters.
The tensions between Hanoi and Beijing resurfaced last week when the state-run China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) moved the giant 1 US$-billion oil rig into position in waters in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone.
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