Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang shakes hand with voters in Ho Chi Minh City on May 16. PHOTO: DIEP DUC MINH
While pledging that Vietnam will exhaust every peaceful measure to defend its sovereignty, President Truong Tan Sang called on his constituents to remain calm and patient.
Sang made the statement in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday ahead of an upcoming session of the National Assembly – the country’s legislature.
“China’s towing of an oil rig into Vietnamese territorial waters violates international law. We stand in complete opposition to this move,” Sang said.
“The goal of protecting [Vietnam’s] sovereignty remains unchanged. It’s my home. You (China) must withdraw (the rig),” he said.
China towed the Haiyang Shiyou 981 rig into Vietnamese waters on May 1 and it now sits about 80 nautical miles inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone--an area established by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as extending 200 nautical miles from the Vietnamese shoreline.
The president pledged that Vietnam will continue to pursue a peaceful resolution to China's incursion, one that that conforms to international laws.
While China has dispatched military ships to guard the rig, Vietnam has only sent civilian coast guard ships and fisheries surveillance force vessels to enforce maritime laws, he said.
Sang slammed China for not abiding by its commitments to not complicate the situation in the East Sea.
The president called on the people to remain calm and patient in defending the country’s sovereignty, nothing that China's recent incursion is a "big matter."
Responding to questions about whether or not Vietnam fears China, Sang said, “Our responsibility is to serve the Fatherland. The people's will is our guide. We don’t fear the defense of our sovereignty.”
Protests against the Chinese rig's illegal incursion began with peaceful demonstrations on May 10 in Ho Chi Minh City and quickly spread to major cities across the country the following day.
Protests held in industrial parks in Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces near Ho Chi Minh City, and in an economic zone in the central province of Ha Tinh erupted into violent riots on May 13 and 14.
More than 1,000 people have been arrested for their role in the riots.