Vietnam demands Facebook fix wrong depiction of its sovereignty

By Nguyen Quy   July 1, 2018 | 08:57 pm PT
Vietnam demands Facebook fix wrong depiction of its sovereignty
A screenshot of Facebook's map for Vietnam on July 2, 2018 does not show the Paracel and Spratly Islands.
Faulty map ignores the nation’s rights over the Paracel and Spratly Islands.

The Vietnamese government has demanded that Facebook takes immediate action to correct a map of Vietnam that does not include the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagoes.

The Ministry of Information and Communications said on Sunday it had sent a notice to Facebook Inc., asking it to clarify the wrongful representation of Vietnam’s sovereignty on its map.

The map depicts the two islands as Chinese territory at a time when the international community has backed criticism of China’s recent actions in the disputed South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea.

A Facebook representative has responded that there was some “confusion” over the map, that it is a technical error without political intention, said Le Quang Tu Do, an official from the communication ministry.

The issue is being investigated and measures will be taken soon to deal with it, the representative added.

As of Monday morning, the map has not been changed. It has reportedly outraged many people in Vietnam, where Facebook is the most popular network with more than 58 million active accounts.

Vietnam News Agency cited an online retailer in Hanoi, only identified as S.Nguyen, as saying that she spotted the problem while designing an advertisement on Facebook.

"I was really shocked and have suspended all advertisement on the social network," she said.

The report said some retailers have also temporarily stopped advertising on Facebook as they "cannot support the wrong map."

Vietnam has consistently affirmed that it has full legal basis and historical evidence to prove its sovereignty over the two archipelagoes in the East Sea, which is known internationally as the South China Sea. It has repeatedly asserted that all activities violating Vietnam's territorial sovereignty over the islands go against international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS).

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.

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