Vietnam needs to conduct “both cooperation and struggle” activities to safeguard its territorial sovereignty in the East Sea, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has said at a meeting of Vietnam’s National Assembly (NA).
PM Dung made the statement in reply to a question of senior Buddhist monk Thich Thanh Quyet, a NA deputy at the NA’s Q-A session held on Wednesday.
The monk told the PM that he wanted to know about “the Party’s and the State’s points of view on the East Sea issues and on the ties between Vietnam and China.”
The deputy suggested that the PM use a phrase of concise and plain words to express his viewpoint.
In reply, PM Dung said he could use six (Vietnamese) words, which are “both cooperation and struggle,” to reflect the policy of the Party and the State in protecting the national sovereignty in the East Sea and in the Vietnam-China ties.
“We need to both cooperate and struggle not only with China but also with other countries, for the sake of peace, stability, friendship and mutual trust,” the PM said.
The premier emphasized that Vietnam and China are neighbors and will be the same forever despite turbulences in their relations.
“We always wish Vietnam and China to sincerely cooperate to maintain peace and stability for the mutual interest and prosperity of both countries,” PM Dung said.
Vietnam also seeks cooperation from China to settle their disagreements on sovereignty over seas and islands based on international laws, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and on the agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues between the two nations, the PM said.
The two countries need to resolve their territorial disputes satisfactorily to both sides, based on international law, he added.
The PM also replied a question from Le Nam, a deputy from Thanh Hoa province, who asked about the government’s reactions against China’s construction activities on Da Chu Thap Island (Fiery Cross Reef) and Gac Ma Island (Johnson South Reef), which are parts of Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago in the East Sea.
“People nationwide know that China used force to occupy Gac Ma and some other islands belonging to Vietnam’s Truong Sa archipelago in 1988. In 2002, Vietnam and other ASEAN countries signed with China the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC),” the PM said.
The DOC requires all parties involved to maintain the status quo in the East Sea, not to further complicate the situation, and to settle any disputes through peaceful measures based on international laws, the government chief said.
Meanwhile, he said, “China has carried out building activities on Truong Sa, of which those on Da Chu Thap Island are of the largest scale, making Da Chu Thap the largest island, covering around 49 hectares, of the Truong Sa archipelago.”
Vietnam strongly objects to this act from China, as it violates Article 5 of the DOC to which China is a party, PM Dung said, adding that this objection has been issued many times by the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“When attending the recent 25th ASEAN Summit in Myanmar, I also raised the objection at the event – at all conferences held within the summit,” the PM said.
These conferences included the one between ASEAN and three countries: China, Japan and South Korea, and another between ASEAN and the United Nations, he added.