Vietnam protests China's hospital ship at Paracel Islands

By Vu Anh   May 23, 2024 | 06:05 am PT
Vietnam protests China's hospital ship at Paracel Islands
China's Youai hospital ship. Photo courtesy of the Chinese army
Vietnam said on Thursday that it roundly objects to actions that violate its sovereignty over the Paracel Islands amid reports of China sending a hospital ship to the area.

"Vietnam resolutely objects to any action that hinders and infringes on the sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Vietnam over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands," said deputy spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Doan Khac Viet at a press meet.

He was responding to inquiries regarding China sending the Youai hospital ship to several localities belonging to the Paracels to perform medical check-ups on soldiers illegally occupying Vietnamese territory there.

The ship, at a length of around 100 m, has a helicopter landing zone and it also participates in drills to transport injured people and support damaged vessels at sea, according to Chinese media reports on Wednesday.

Viet said Vietnam has full historical evidence and legal basis to assert its sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly (Truong Sa) islands in the East Sea accordance with international law. Vietnam has full sovereignty, sovereignty rights and jurisdiction over its sea areas as established by the UNCLOS (the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).

Upon China announcing that it has allowed its coast guard forces to "arrest foreigners suspected of trespassing its border" at sea, Viet said Vietnam would be resolute and consistent in "protecting its sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over Vietnamese waters, and the legitimate rights of Vietnamese citizens in accordance with UNCLOS and Vietnamese law."

On May 15, China issued policies allowing its coast guard to detain foreigners for up to 60 days if they are suspected of trespassing its border at sea. The policy went into effect starting May 16 at sea regions where China claims sovereignty.

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