Vietnam steps up protests against Chinese oil rig incursion

Thanh Nien News

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A Chinese giant mobile drilling rig (in circle) is located well inside Vietnam's exclusive economic zone. PHOTO COURTESY OF PETROVIETNAM

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh strictly criticized China for sending a giant mobile drilling rig into Vietnam’s water during a phone call to Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on May 6.

“Vietnam will take all the proper and necessary measures to protect its legitimate rights and interests,” Minh, who is also Vietnamese Foreign Minister, said.
China’s unilateral deployment of the drilling rig HD-981 and a large number of vessels, even military ones, in this area is illegal, runs counter to the international law and practices, seriously violates Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago and sovereign right and jurisdiction over Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, he said
On May 5, the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration reaffirmed that the HD-981 rig will operate for three months in the East Sea, also known as South China Sea, at a place inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone only 120 nautical miles off Vietnam’s coast.
“Vietnam cannot accept and resolutely protests the China’s act and demands China totally withdraw the drilling rig HD-981 as well as escort vessels from this area, and joining talks with Vietnam to handle the related differences,” he spoke on the phone.
Minh reaffirmed that Vietnam has full legal and historical grounds to prove its sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos and 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.
Stressing that Vietnam will take all the proper and necessary measures to protect its sovereignty, Minh also said Vietnam always shows its good will, sticks to satisfactory resolution of disputes through negotiations, dialogues and other peaceful measures.
These measures will be in accordance with the common awareness of the high-ranking leaders of the two countries, the agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues, in accordance with regulations and practices of the international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in order not to let this issue damage the mutual political trust and cooperation between the two sides, Minh said.
Earlier on May 4, Vietnam's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ho Xuan Son also made a phone call to his Chinese counterpart Liu Zhen Min to discuss about the incident.
On the same day, representative of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with a representative of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi to hand over Vietnam’s diplomatic note to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, protesting the drilling rig’s operation.
On May 6, the United States warned China that a decision to move a deep-sea oil rig into disputed waters in the South China Sea was a "provocative" step which it was monitoring closely.
"We're looking carefully into this matter," US State Department deputy spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
"Given the recent history of tensions in the South China Sea, China's decision to operate its oil rig in disputed waters is provocative and unhelpful to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region,"she said.

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