Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said Vietnam must be prepared for every eventuality, including war, while protecting its national sovereignty.
“Some have asked what we will do if war breaks out. We have to prepare for every possibility, though we don’t want war to break out and are doing our best to avoid it,” he said.
Trong was speaking to his constituents in Hanoi’s Tay Ho District on July 1, regarding China’s illegal deployment of a mobile drilling rig, guarded by more than 100 ships, into Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.
During the meeting, many constituents agreed with the Party and government’s policy toward the issue and called for more determined actions against Chinese aggression.
Trong said that resolving tensions in the East Sea (aka South China Sea) is an important and sensitive issue that has attracted the attention of many countries.
“Whether [we] want to or not, [we] have to coexist forever," Trong said. "No one can choose his neighbor. Thus, we'll have to resolve this properly.”
“This isn't the first time this has happened; it's happened many times in the past and we all have to find ways to live together peacefully and in friendship while maintaining our independence and sovereignty,” he said.
Trong reaffirmed that China’s placement of the rig represents a violations of international law, Vietnam’s sovereignty and agreements between the two countries' top Party and government leaders.
Furthermore, he said, it threatens the safety and freedom of maritime navigation in the East Sea.
We have to prepare for every possibility, though we don’t want war to break out and are doing our best to avoid it." -- Vietnamese Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong
“Vietnam resolutely opposes and requests that China withdraw the Haiyang 981 drilling rig and protective fleet from our waters and submit to dialogue,” he said.
The Party Chief said Vietnam is determined to pursue peaceful solutions based on international law, including legal proceedings.
In reality, he said, China attacked and occupied Hoang Sa (Paracel Islands) twice and Vietnam has resolutely confirmed its sovereignty over the islands.
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, internationally known as 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) and has been emphatically rejected by international scholars.