China needs to end its militarization in the South China Sea in violation of Vietnam’s territories and to refrain from escalating tensions.
The remark is made by Pham Thu Hang, deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, during a regular press briefing, in response to a question over US reports of China having fully militarized at least three of several islands it built on Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in the South China Sea (known in Vietnam as the East Sea).
|Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pham Thu Hang__Photo: VNA|
“The strengthening of militarization of a number of entities as part of the Spratly Islands not only violates Vietnam’s sovereignty over this island, but also causes serious concerns for countries in the region and the international community, as reflected in ASEAN’s documents,” Hang stated, adding that this is not conducive to the maintenance of peace, stability, and development in the South China Sea.
“Vietnam has full legal grounds and historical evidence to assert sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel islands, and sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the waters in accordance with international laws and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” Hang emphasized.
Vietnam asks China to respect Vietnam’s sovereignty, cease all militarization actions and refrain from actions that could escalate tensions in the region, maintain favorable conditions for the continued joint efforts with ASEAN to conclude the negotiations towards a substantive and effective Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in line with international laws and 1982 UNCLOS at the earliest time, she stated.
The US news agency Associated Press in late March cited US Indo-Pacific commander, Adm. John C. Aquilino, saying that China has outfitted the islands with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, laser and jamming equipment, along with fleets of fighter jets, adding that this “buildup of weaponization is destabilizing to the region.”
Aquilino said the construction of missile arsenals, aircraft hangars, radar systems and other military facilities on Mischief Reef (known as Da Vanh Khan in Vietnam), Subi Reef (Da Subi), and Fiery Cross (Da Chu Thap) – three among the seven entities that Vietnam claims sovereignty of but are currently under Chinese occupation – appear to have been completed.
Reporters also asked for Vietnam’s response to a comment from retired Filipino Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, who said that the country should hold joint patrols in the South China Sea with Vietnam, the US, and some countries in the region, as a way to compel China to adhere to ground rules in Scarborough Shoal, a traditional fishing ground shared between the three countries.
In response, Hang again reiterated Vietnam’s stance of wishing to cooperate with other countries and contribute to peace, stability, safety, cooperation, and development in the South China Sea, based on international laws and 1982 UNCLOS, for common interests and in line with the aspirations of the countries in the region and the international community.
“With that in mind, over the years, Vietnam has participated in joint patrols with countries in the region, such as Cambodia, Thailand, and China, and carried out international cooperation in scientific research, environmental protection, maritime crime prevention, and other economic activities,” Hằng noted.
Asked about the upcoming Vietnam-China border defense friendship exchange slated to be held in late April this year, the deputy spokesperson said the exchange activities at all levels and sectors and localities between Vietnam and China have been regularly maintained under a variety of formats.
The border defense friendship exchange is a regular annual activity held by the two countries’ ministries of national defense and border guard forces, she noted.
The event is expected to include a wide range of activities aimed at increasing mutual understanding and mutual trust, as well as enhancing the effectiveness of the coordination on border management and protection between the two border guard forces in particular and between the two armies in general, Hang said.
“The event aims at promoting friendship and cooperation between localities and peoples of the border region, as well as the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between Vietnam and China, and also contributes to the building of a borderline of peace, stability, friendship, cooperation, and development between Vietnam and China,” the deputy spokesperson stressed.- (VLLF)