Vietnam to verify satellite images of Chinese construction on Paracel Islands - foreign ministry

By VnExpress   March 21, 2017 | 08:30 am PT
A photo taken by an independent firm appears to show foundations being laid for a port on North Reef.

Photos recently released by a private satellite company of the North Reef in the Paracel (Hoang Sa) Archipelago appear to show some of China’s recent activities on the islands, which belong to Vietnam.

The foreign ministry plans to study the images in more detail to establish their authenticity, ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Tra told reporters late Tuesday.

The photos, taken by Planet Labs, an independent American Earth-imaging firm, were released on March 6 and show land clearance work that may be in preparation for the construction of a port. Previous work on the island carried out by the Chinese was destroyed by a storm

In the past, China has illegally placed anti-aircraft missile launchers and fighter jets on Phu Lam Island, which is also a part of Vietnam’s Hoang Sa Archipelago.

The North Reef offers protection to Phu Lam Island, where civilian facilities are located. 

Experts believe that China plans to install illegal military equipment on the island, Reuters reported.

Vietnam has a sufficient legal basis and historical evidence to claim sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, Tra emphasized. Any construction work on Hoang Sa without permission from Vietnam is illegal.

"Vietnam asks all parties involved to behave responsibly without further complicating the situation, especially through militarization that threatens peace, stability, security, safety and maritime and aviation freedom in the East Sea [known internationally as the South China Sea]," Tra said.

The Spratlys are claimed in part by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

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