China must stop illegitimate construction activities in Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago in the East Vietnam Sea, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, rejecting an argument by the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson about such construction work.
Vietnam’s foreign ministry spokesman, Le Hai Binh, made the demand at a press briefing in Hanoi on Thursday in reply to media questions about the Southeast Asian country’s response to a statement by China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Lu Kang, on the illicit building activities of China in the waters.
The statement says, “The construction activities on the Nansha [which is what China calls Vietnam’s Truong Sa] islands and reefs fall within the scope of China’s sovereignty, and are lawful, reasonable and justified.”
Kang’s statement was shown in a press release published on the website of the Chinese Minsitry of Foreign Affairs on June 16.
He also said that the land reclamation projects China is conducting on some islands and reefs of Truong Sa will be completed in the upcoming days. “After the land reclamation, we will start the building of facilities to meet relevant functional requirements,” the press release quoted Kang as saying.
Regarding it, Binh said China’s building and expanding of islands and reefs in Truong Sa are illegal, and such activities never change the reality that Vietnam has full legal foundation and historical evidence to prove its sovereignty over Truong Sa.
“Vietnam demands that China stop these activities, respect its sovereignty over the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagoes, comply with international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS] and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the [East Vietnam Sea], and not take any actions to complicate the situation and the status quo in the waters,” Binh said.
Regarding the fact that the Chinese newspaper People’s Daily recently ran an article saying that in case of emergency, China will convert all civilian maritime ships for military use, Binh underlined that Hanoi hopes Beijing, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and an important player in the region, will make responsible and constructive contributions to maintaining regional and international peace and stability.
Concerning a report that two Vietnamese fishing ships from central Quang Binh Province, QB93694TS and QB93480TS, with a total of 17 fishermen on board, were seized by China, Binh said the latest information from Vietnamese agencies is that all the fishermen and one of the two boats had returned to Vietnam safely.
The Vietnamese Embassy in China is continuing to request that the country unconditionally release the other fishing vessel, Binh said.
Regarding the information that China had allegedly forced these fishermen to sign documents recognizing China’s sovereignty in the East Vietnam Sea, the Vietnamese foreign ministry has ordered the Vietnamese Embassy in China to work with the Chinese side to clarify this issue, the spokesman said.