Fisheries society demands Chinese ships leave Vietnamese waters pronto

By Viet Tuan   July 30, 2019 | 04:55 am PT
Fisheries society demands Chinese ships leave Vietnamese waters pronto
Vietnamese fishing boats lie berthed in a port in the central city of Da Nang. Photo by AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam.
The Vietnam Fisheries Society has demanded that a Chinese oil survey vessel and its escorts, now operating in the East Sea, leave immediately.

In a statement issued on Monday, it strongly criticized China for sending oil survey vessel Haiyang Dizhi 8 and escorts that infringed on Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf near the Vanguard Bank on the East Sea, known internationally as the South China Sea.

"We vehemently condemn and protest China’s actions in seriously violating Vietnam’s sovereignty over its islands and waters... Such actions impede fishing activities of fishermen in [Vietnam’s] southeastern and south central regions," read the document sent by the society to the Government Office, the Central Party Commission for External Relations, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Defense.

The society said that Vietnamese authorities should intensify their opposition against China’s actions and demand that China withdraw the oil survey vessel and escorts from Vietnamese waters immediately.

Vietnamese law enforcement forces should also step up sea patrols to protect fishermen’s lives and properties, it added.

The Chinese survey ship and its escorts had conducted activities in the southern area of the East Sea since earlier this month, Vietnam's Foreign Ministry said.

For the second time in a week, the ministry's spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said last Thursday that the act violated Vietnam’s EEZ and continental shelf as established in the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

She said Vietnam has contacted China on multiple occasions via different channels, delivered diplomatic notes to oppose China's violations and demanded that China stop all unlawful activities, withdraw its ships from Vietnamese waters and respect Vietnam's sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its waters.

The case has garnered international attention.

The U.S. Department of State said on July 20 that it was concerned by reports of China’s interference with Vietnam and other countries' oil and gas activities.

It called Chinese acts "bullying," saying that China’s reclamation and militarization of disputed outposts in the waterway, including the use of maritime militia to intimidate, coerce, and threaten other nations, undermined peace and security in the region.

Experts said China is trying to turn Vietnamese territory into a disputed area to advance its superpower plans, but the actions could erode bilateral and regional trust and affect domestic opinion.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, including waters close to Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

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