Vietnam calls out China’s new coast guard law

By Ngoc Anh   January 29, 2021 | 08:10 pm PT
Vietnam calls out China’s new coast guard law
A China Coast Guard ship cruises near a vessel of the Vietnam Coast Guard in the South China Sea in May 2014. Photo by Reuters.
Vietnam has pointedly called on all countries to comply with international laws and treaties when passing maritime laws after China enacted a new coast guard law.

The standing committee of China’s National People's Congress last week passed a law that allows its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels, among other things.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement on Friday: "In the promulgation and implementation of national legal documents related to the sea, countries are obliged to comply with international laws, international treaties to which they are signatories, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

"Vietnam has sufficient historical evidence and legal basis to assert sovereignty over the Hoang Sa [Paracel] and Truong Sa [Spratly] islands in accordance with international law, sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the waters in accordance with UNCLOS and would resolutely and persistently take measures in accordance with international law to defend these legal, legitimate rights."

She said related countries should respect Vietnam's sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea, display goodwill in the enforcement of international law and UNCLOS, take no action that could increase tensions, and actively contribute to peace and stability in the East Sea.

China's new law authorizes its coast guard to use "all necessary means" to stop or prevent threats from foreign vessels. They include the use of hand-held weapons as well as weapons used from ships or from the air.

The law also allows the coast guard to demolish other countries' structures, board and inspect foreign vessels on reefs and in waters claimed by China, and establish temporary exclusion zones "as needed" to stop vessels and personnel from entering.

China’s passage of the law comes even as it remains locked in sovereignty disputes with Japan in the East China Sea and with a number of Southeast Asian countries in the East Sea. Beijing has repeatedly used coast guard vessels to chase away and harry other countries' fishing vessels, on several occasions even ramming and sinking them.

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