“We must consistently protect national sovereignty that is sacred and inviolable,” President Truong Tan Sang told people in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 on Thursday when replying to their questions related to China’s placement of an illegal oil rig in Vietnam’s waters.
The meeting was organized for the leader to inform local residents of the outcomes of the 13th National Assembly’s 7th session that wrapped up on June 24.
At the meeting, many residents expressed their deep concern over the reality that the East Vietnam Sea situation has become increasingly tense because China has illegally placed its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 deep inside Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone since May 1.
They strongly condemned China’s wrongful acts and suggested that the Party and government take decisive measures to safeguard national sovereignty while reinforcing defense strengths and boosting national economic development to lessen dependence on China’s economy.
In reply, President Sang said the Party’s and government’s policy is that Vietnam wishes to be a reliable friend and partner of the international community on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefits, for the sake of peace and development.
Based on the policy, Vietnam has expanded relations with nearly all countries in the world, he said, adding that Vietnam does not “depend on any country.”
Regarding questions related to Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago in the East Vietnam Sea, President Sang said the late Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong never said Hoang Sa and Truong Sa belonged to China.
The letter sent to Chinese PM Zhou Enlai in 1958 by the then Vietnamese PM Dong only said that Vietnam respected China’s territorial waters of 12 nautical miles, President Sang stressed.
In reply to questions related to the development that China has submitted records to the United Nations on June 9, irrationally and absurdly accusing Vietnam of violating its sovereignty over the waters where Beijing has illegally stationed its oil rig, President Sang said, “Sooner or later I will meet China’s leaders again and my first question to them will be, ‘Who has committed a violation of sovereignty?’ They must reply to that question.”
He emphasized that Vietnam will continue its diplomatic activities to gain further support from the international community for its peaceful efforts and measures to demand the withdrawal of the Chinese drilling platform.
Responding to questions about the possibility of Vietnam taking legal action against China’s violation of sovereignty, the President said, “Set your mind at rest. There are no small nations that do not use legal measures and international law to protect its national interests.”
The president said the protection of national sovereignty is a long-term duty and warned that the East Vietnam Sea situation may become more complicated in the coming days.
However, he emphasized, “We must consistently protect national sovereignty that is sacred and inviolable.”
During last week’s interview with the Vietnam News Agency on Vietnam’s responses to China’s illegal oil rig deployment, President Sang also said, “We are determined to protect every inch of our land or sea from violation. For every Vietnamese, territorial sovereignty is sacred and sacrosanct.”