Vietnam rejects China's distortions in East Sea diplomatic note

By Viet Anh   April 23, 2020 | 06:31 am PT
Vietnam rejects China's distortions in East Sea diplomatic note
An aerial view of Southwest Cay, also known as Pugad Island, part of Vietnam's Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, April 21, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Francis Malasig.
Vietnam has rejected misinterpretations in China’s recent diplomatic note to the U.N. and reaffirmed legal sovereignty over Vietnamese East Sea territories.   

"Vietnam has contacted China to strongly affirm Vietnam's consistent stance and deny China's wrongful stance," Ngo Toan Thang, deputy spokesman of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said in an online press meet Thursday.

Thang was responding to inquiries about Vietnam's reactions on China sending a diplomatic note to the U.N. on April 17 regarding its East Sea sovereignty claims.

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

In an April 17 note, China said that the Vietnamese government and the world community has acknowledged Beijing's sovereignty over what it calls the Xisha Islands, established over Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands, and the Nansha Islands over Vietnam's Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands.

China cited a diplomatic note by late Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong in 1958. Misinterpreting that note, China claimed that the Vietnamese government acknowledged and supported the Chinese government's September 4, 1958 statement on territorial waters. According to that statement, China wanted territorial waters that spanned 12 nautical miles, applying to all of China's territories, including the Xisha Islands, the Nansha Islands, the Dongsha Islands (Pratas Islands) and the Zhongsa Islands (Macclesfield Bank).

Tran Duy Hai, then the deputy head of the National Border Committee, had asserted in June 2014 that Vietnam never acknowleged China's sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands. The diplomatic note in 1958 did not mention any sovereignty issue and China had sought a way to wrongly interpret it, Hai’d said.

On China issuing what were called the standard names for 80 geographical features in the East Sea, Thang said all behaviors that are harmful towards Vietnam's sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands, Vietnam's sovereignty and jurisdiction rights over its sea areas are unrecognized and of no value.

Vietnam is resolutely opposed to such behaviors, he said.

On East Sea disputes between Vietnam and other countries, Thang said Vietnam has distributed a diplomatic note at the U.N. on April 10 to affirm Vietnam's sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands in accordance with international law, and that all claims at sea that go against the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), violate the sovereignty, sovereignty and jurisdiction rights of Vietnam over its sea areas carry no value.

Vietnam considers that all countries have responsibility and mutual interest in respecting the fundamental principles of international law, including the principle of the sovereign equality of countries, refraining in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of any state, and settling international disputes by peaceful means.

"In that spirit, Vietnam is willing to settle disputes with relevant countries through negotiations as well as other peaceful methods, including methods stated in the UNCLOS," Thang said.

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