Vietnam's Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh speaks at the 8th ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM-8) in Myanmar May 20, 2014. PHOTO: VIETNAM NEWS AGENCY
Vietnam is seeking to avoid armed conflict with China despite its illegal positioning of a US$1-billion oil rig well inside Vietnam's exclusive economic zone early this month, Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh said at the 8th ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM-8) in Myanmar on Tuesday.
Minister Thanh briefed participants at the meeting on China’s deployment of the Haiyang Shiyou-981 rig and its protective armada over Vietnam's continental shelf, Vietnam News Agency reported.
He said the act had stirred discontent among the Vietnamese people and raised concerns among ASEAN member countries as well.
The minister said Vietnam has and will exercise the utmost restraint so that no armed conflicts occur at sea.
“We have not used aircraft, ships armed with missile batteries or frogmen to attack and destroy the Chinese rig. We've only used Coast Guard, Fisheries Resources Surveillance and fishing boats to protect our sovereignty.
“Vietnamese vessels have not rammed or fired water cannons at Chinese vessels to force them to withdraw.”
The minister reiterated that Vietnam is pursuing peaceful solutions to the dispute and has sought to engage in dialogue with China at every level, including through people-to-people diplomatic channels, he added.
Regarding the recent riots in Vietnam, Minister Thanh said Vietnam will strictly punish the extremists who incited people to vandalize Chinese and other foreign-invested companies.
The Vietnamese government is taking measures to ensure the safety and security of foreign citizens and enterprises in the country, he said, adding that the affected firms have resumed their normal operations.
Participants at ADMM-8 agreed to discuss China’s oil rig incursion at the upcoming informal meeting between ASEAN defense ministers and the Chinese Defense Minister on the sidelines of the meeting.
They called on Vietnam and China to settle the dispute via peaceful methods and based on international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the ASEAN Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) which China signed.
On the sidelines of ADMM-8, Minister Thanh held bilateral meetings with the defense ministers of China, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Minister of Energy of Brunei.
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