Hanoi rejects Beijing’s unilateral East Sea 'fishing ban'

By Viet Anh   May 8, 2020 | 03:20 am PT
Hanoi rejects Beijing’s unilateral East Sea 'fishing ban'
Vietnamese fishing boats dock off Vietnam's south central coast. Photo by VnExpress/Dang Le.
Vietnam’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has opposed China’s unilateral East Sea "fishing ban" and asked Beijing not to complicate the situation further.

In the context of the current international and regional situation, Vietnam has asked China to desist from further complicating the situation in the East Sea, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement Friday.

The East Sea is internationally known as the South China Sea.

Vietnam has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands, as well as its legal rights over its waters in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), she said.

As a country alongside the East Sea and a member of the 1982 UNCLOS, Vietnam has sovereignty and jurisdiction in its territorial waters established in accordance with the Convention, and has the right to enjoy other legitimate interests at sea as stipulated in the Convention, Hang affirmed.

On April 30, the Hainan Provincial Department of Agriculture announced that China’s annual "fishing ban" on the South China Sea has begun on May 1 and would last until August 16, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported, citing the South China Sea branch of the China Coast Guard.

The ban would apply to certain sea areas of the South China Sea that encompass parts of the Gulf of Tonkin and Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands.

No fishing activities are allowed in sea areas under China’s sovereignty within the time period, except in certain cases, according to the Hainan department. During the ban, China would perform safety checks for fishing equipment and vessels, as well as instruct its fisherpeople on relevant policies and skills, it said.

Soon after, the Vietnam Fisheries Society expressed opposition Monday to China’s unilateral decision, saying "the fishing ban has no legal value over sea areas under Vietnam’s sovereignty. Vietnamese fishermen have the right to fish in sea areas under Vietnam’s sovereignty."

China has been issuing similar "fishing bans" every year in recent times and Vietnam has consistently condemned and rejected such acts. China claims the bans seek to promote sustainable fisheries development and improve marine ecology.

China had seized the Paracel Islands from South Vietnam by force in 1974, and has been illegally occupying it since.

In 2012 it established the so-called Sansha City with the archipelago's Woody Island as its seat. The "city" also covers a number of reefs in the Spratly Islands that China seized by force in 1988 and the Scarborough Shoal.

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