Vietnam condemns China for live-fire drills in Paracels

By Khanh Lynh   May 31, 2018 | 05:05 am PT
Vietnam condemns China for live-fire drills in Paracels
Chinese naval warships fired missiles during exercises in 2017 in the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea, off China's east coast. Photo by Reuters
Vietnam asks China to refrain from carrying out activities which may cause tensions in the region.

Vietnam on Thursday sent a strong condemnation against China's conducting live-fire drills in its Paracels (Hoang Sa) Islands earlier this month.

The action was a gross violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty, the ministry's spokesperson, Le Thi Thu Hang, said at a press briefing in Hanoi. 

"Vietnam demands that China put an end to these activities immediately, and seriously respect Vietnam's sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Islands," she said, using Vietnamese names for the Paracels and Spratlys. 

The drills were against the Vietnam-China Agreement on Basic Principles Guiding the Settlement of Maritime Issues, violated the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and negatively affected the negotiation of a Code of Conduct in the waters, she said.

It was also not conducive for peace, stability and cooperation on the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea, Hang added.

Vietnam asks China to abide by international laws while refraining from carrying out activities which may cause tensions in the region, she added.

The spokesperson said Vietnam has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the the Paracels and Spratlys in accordance with international law. 

China seized the Paracel Islands from South Vietnam by force in 1974, and has been illegally occupying a number of reefs in the Spratly Islands since 1988.

The Maritime Safety Administration of China’s southern province of Hainan announced on its website that there were live fire drills around the Paracel Islands, which Vietnam claims, from May 9-12. The administration also forbid any vehicle from entering the areas in which the drills were underway.

The Chinese air force announced on May 18 that several of its bombers, including the long-range, nuclear strike capable H-6K, had carried out landing and taking off drills at an island airfield in the Paracel Islands. 

The drills came weeks after U.S. news network CNBC reported that China had installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands.

In an almost identical criticism that it levied against Chinese actions on its Paracels earlier, Vietnam slammed Taiwan’s live-fire drill in the Spratlys as a threat to peace and a serious violation of its sovereignty.

Hang said Vietnam resolutely opposes all actions by Taiwan on Vietnam’s sovereign territory and demands that such exercises are not repeated.

Taiwan conducted the live-fire drill from May 23-25 in water around Ba Binh island, internationally known as Itu Abu island in the East Sea.

Taiwan, like China, has been a repeat offender, conducting a live-fire drill in waters around Ba Binh island from March 21-23.

It illegally occupies Ba Binh, the largest natural occurring island in the Spratlys. The island, which has an area of 0.5 square meters, is 1,600 kilometers southwest of Taiwan.

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