Vietnam speaks up after Chinese banks branch out on seized island

By Viet Anh   February 9, 2017 | 08:34 pm GMT+7
Vietnam speaks up after Chinese banks branch out on seized island
Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015. Photo by Reuters/U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters

'…any move conducted by foreign countries in the area without Vietnam’s permission is illegal.'

Vietnam spoke out after reports that the Bank of China opened a branch in what Beijing calls Sansha City, an ad hoc settlement created to firm up Chinese claims to Vietnamese waters in the East Sea, internationally known as South China Sea.

“We have repeatedly affirmed that Vietnam has indisputable sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagoes," Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh told reporters on Thursday, using the Vietnamese references for the Paracel and and Spratly island chains.

"Therefore, any move conducted by foreign countries in the area without Vietnam’s permission is illegal,” Binh said. 

On February 5, the Bank of China (BOC) opened the branch in the so-called city, according to Chinese media.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China also reportedly opened a branch on the island. Other financial institutions, including the China Development Bank and the Agricultural Bank of China, have entered into strategic partnerships with the island's government, according to a report from Xinhua.

Sansha was established by China in the Paracels in July 2012.

China invaded the Paracel Islands in 1974, as American forces withdrew from the region, abandoning a naval unit of the then U.S.-backed Republic of Vietnam to a brief but bloody assault.

Vietnam's behemoth northern neighbor has illegally occupied the islands ever since; re-unified Vietnam has never relinquished its sovereignty over the Paracel Islands.

The Spratly island chain is claimed in part or whole by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

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