Vietnam slams China’s distortion of East Sea situation

By Truong Son, Thanh Nien News

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a press conference on East Sea developments in Hanoi on June 16, 2014. Photo: Ngoc Thang The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a press conference on East Sea developments in Hanoi on June 16, 2014. Photo: Ngoc Thang
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected China’s allegations that Vietnamese ships have deliberately collided with the protective armada guarding its illegally positioned oil rig as groundless and without evidence during an international press conference held Monday in Hanoi.
Tran Duy Hai, vice chairman of the National Boundary Commission, announced that Vietnam has made every effort to peacefully resolve the current tensions in the East Sea, which arose when China illegally positioned the Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig in Vietnamese waters.
The Foreign Ministry has stressed that it has repeatedly sought to peacefully negotiate with the Chinese, but they have responded in an unconstructive manner.
China has promulgated baseless accusations that falsely charge Vietnamese ships with having rammed Chinese vessels more than 1,500 times, he said, adding that China has not provided any evidence to support its accusations.
According to Hai, Vietnam has released photos and video clips capturing China’s aggressive, violent acts such as ramming and firing water cannons at Vietnam’s ships, sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat, and injuring dozens of Vietnamese crew members.
When asked to comment on photos and clips which show Chinese ships with broken prows after being allegedly attacked by Vietnamese vessels, Ngo Ngoc Thu, vice commander of the High Command of Vietnam Coast Guard, said a ship's prow cannot be broken can only be damaged in an offensive attack.
He also rejected China’s accusations that Vietnam has sent frogmen to the oil rig and placed objects to hinder Chinese navigation near the rig.
“We can confirm that Vietnam has never used frogmen at the site of the Haiyan Shiyou-981 oil rig.
“Nets and floating objects fished out by Chinese ships were jettisoned or lost by Vietnamese fishermen as they were trying to flee advancing Chinese vessels.”
The Chinese have absurdly presented its collection of flotsam as evidence of sabotage; in fact, it's the broken pieces of the Vietnamese boats that they rammed and blasted with high-pressure water cannons, he added.
Although Chinese ships have continued to violently block, ram and blast Vietnamese ships, Vietnamese coast guard and fisheries surveillance forces have abstained from responding with violence, Thu said.
Vietnamese vessels have not fired water cannons back at Chinese ships, but instead used loudspeakers to demand China remove its rig and protective armada from Vietnam’s waters, noted Thu.
Ha Le, vice head of the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Department, told reporters China has sent 50 armored boats to Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands, but not for fishing.
The boats joined Chinese army ships to ram and damage Vietnamese fishing boats and attack Vietnamese fishermen who were fishing in their customary spots, he said.
Since May 1, 17 Vietnamese fishing boats have been damaged and dozens of Vietnamese fishermen injured (three of whom seriously) in hundreds of attacks made by Chinese forces, according to Le.
When asked to comment on Chinese foreign ministry’s request on June 13 that Vietnam withdraw from 29 islets and shoals in the Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands which China claims Vietnam occupied, Hai (vice chairman of the National Boundary Commission) said the request was absolutely unreasonable.
“We reject the request. Vietnam has all legal and historical evidence to affirm its sovereignty over Truong Sa Archipelago; Vietnam has consistently managed and explored the islands in a peaceful way.
“It is China who used force to occupy shoals in Truong Sa, so China must withdraw from the shoals it had illegally occupied since 1988.”

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