Vietnam won't trade its sovereignty and legitimate interests for a “false and dependent friendship” with China, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said.
However, the country will not use military means it its protest against China's violation of sovereignty in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea, Dung said in email responses to questions from the Associated Press and Reuters.
Since earlier this month, China has deployed a giant oil rig just 150 miles off Vietnamese coast, well within its exclusive economic zone in the East Sea.
The rig's protective armada, which includes naval vessels, have prevented Vietnamese sea law enforcement forces to operate in the area, many times by ramming and spraying water cannons on Vietnamese vessels.
Vietnam, however, would never pick a fight, according to the PM.
"Military solution? The answer is no," Dung said in the email. "Vietnam has endured untold suffering and losses from past invasive wars ... We are never the first to use military force and would never unilaterally initiate a military confrontation unless we were forced to take defensive action."
Vietnam has pursued every opportunity and diplomatic channel to settle the situation in a peaceful manner, he noted.
“We have always shown our heart-felt goodwill and exercised the utmost restraint, but China’s response has grown increasingly threatening,” PM Dung said. "It's violations [of international law] continue and it has chosen to slander and blame Vietnam."
We always wish for peace and friendship, but those things must be based on independence, self-reliance, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will never trade these sacred things for a certain false and dependent peace and friendship.
“There is a vast gap between the words and deeds of China,” he said, adding that China’s actions in Vietnamese waters in recent days have proven extremely dangerous and seriously threaten the peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation, cooperation and development in the region and the world.
“We always wish for peace and friendship, but those things must be based on independence, self-reliance, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will never trade these sacred things for a certain false and dependent peace and friendship,” he wrote.
Vietnam is considering various defensive options, including legal action, in accordance with international law, he said.
Responding to a question about the possibility of Vietnam joining forces with an ally to deal with this situation, Dung said Vietnam will not engage in military alliances against another country -- noting that the country has never done so.
He said that Vietnam has provided accurate information on China’s illegal deployment of the Haiyang Shiyou-981 rig to international organizations, governments, foreign politicians, scholars and international media.
Regarding relations between Vietnam and China following the latter’s illegal act, the PM stressed that Vietnam is deeply aware of the friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.
He said that China and Vietnam's relationship is vital to the long-term interests of both countries and contributes to the peace, stability, cooperation and development of the region and the world.
He reiterated that Vietnam attaches special importance to and always tries its best to preserve and strengthen its fine friendship and cooperation with China. The country always wishes to resolve disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international law, equality and mutual respect.
“Vietnam strongly opposes China’s illegal rig in Vietnamese waters and firmly protects its national sovereignty and legitimate interests in accordance with international law,” he said.
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