Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has rejected China’s false accusations against Hanoi in relation to Beijing’s illegal oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 in Vietnamese waters as well as the groundless affirmation of its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.
At the international press conference held in Hanoi on Monday, Ngo Ngoc Thu, Vice Commander and Chief of Staff of the Vietnam Coast Guard, rebutted China’s deceitful report that Vietnamese vessels rammed or crashed into Chinese boats 1,547 times as of June 14.
In fact, Chinese vessels have continuously rammed or fired water cannons at local vessels, damaging 23 fisheries surveillance ships, five Coast Guard boats, and seven fishing vessels, Colonel Thu said.
Such attacks have injured 15 Vietnamese fishery surveillance officers and dozens of fishermen.
China’s false accusation and what it has actually caused to the Vietnamese force in the waters were exposed clearly through the video clips that were presented at the press conference.
These video clips are vivid evidence showing that Chinese vessels have used force to attack Vietnamese ships in Vietnamese waters.
Colonel Thu also refuted Beijing’s allegation that Vietnam sent frogmen and other underwater agents to the rig’s area, and dropped large numbers of obstacles, including fishing nets and floating objects, in the waters.
The Vietnamese official affirmed that Hanoi has never used frogmen in the waters and pointed out that the “fishing nets” mentioned by China are those that had fallen from Vietnamese vessels into the sea during the attacks by Chinese vessels on local boats around the rig’s area.
Colonel Thu also dismissed the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ report that 4-6 Vietnamese warships traveled through the rig’s area every day.
He emphasized that international reporters at the scene over the past days have clearly known that no Vietnamese warships have ever been present in the area.
Meanwhile, as of May 16, after unilaterally imposing a fishing ban in the East Vietnam Sea, China has sent about 50 iron-clad fishing boats to areas near the rig to scare Vietnamese fishing boats away from their traditional fishing grounds in Vietnam’s waters, said Ha Le, deputy head of the Vietnam Fisheries Resource Surveillance Department.
Since early May, these Chinese fishing ships have attacked Vietnamese fishing vessels hundreds of times and injured dozens of fishermen, Le said.
He also reiterated that Chinese vessel 11209 rammed and sank Vietnamese fishing ship DNa 90152, from central Da Nang City, on May 26.
He rejected China’s false report that the DNa 90152 crashed into the Chinese vessels and sank itself.
China has used force to occupy Hoang Sa
At the press conference, Tran Duy Hai, deputy chairman of the National Border Committee, presented historical materials that prove that China has no legal foundation to prove its sovereignty over Vietnam’s Hoang Sa, and reiterated that Vietnam has full historical and legal evidence to affirm its sovereignty over the archipelago in the East Vietnam Sea.
At least from the 17th century, Vietnam’s Nguyen dynasties conducted operations to exploit marine products off Hoang Sa and made measurements of sea routes from and to the archipelago.
After the French signed two protection treaties with the Vietnamese feudal courts in 1874 and 1884, the French administration, on behalf of Vietnam, enforced Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa, Hai said.
The sovereignty enforcement was shown through the building and operation of a lighthouse and a hydro-meteorological station in Hoang Sa and issuing birth certificates to Vietnamese citizens born in the archipelago.
Hai also emphasized that China used force to attack and occupy Hoang Sa in 1956 and 1974, violating Vietnam’s sovereignty and going against the basic principles of international law.
“The use of force to occupy Hoang Sa cannot create sovereignty for China over Hoang Sa,” Hai said.
Wrongfully citing late Vietnamese PM’s letter
Hai also told the press conference that China has falsely cited a letter sent by the late Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong to his then Chinese counterpart Zhou Enlai in 1958.
China has used this letter as proof that Vietnam acknowledges Beijing’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa.
But the letter simply said that Vietnam agreed to China expanding its marine security belt from three to 12 nautical miles, Hai said.
He also pointed out that in September 1975, the then Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Deng Xiaoping recognized that China and Vietnam had different opinions of the sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes and said that the two countries would resolve the differences later.
This statement by Deng Xiaoping was recorded in a diplomatic memorandum of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 12, 1988, Hai said.
Earlier, at a similar press conference held on May 23 in the Vietnamese capital, Hai told reporters that “the letter says that Vietnam respects China’s territorial waters of 12 nautical miles, and does not mention territorial sovereignty as well as the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa issue.”
Therefore, this letter is not valid in the issue of sovereignty over the two archipelagoes, Hai insisted.
“In addition, the letter was issued to China in the time when Hoang Sa was under the management of the former Republic of Vietnam [the administration of South Vietnam before 1975] according to the 1954 Geneva Accords to which China was a party.
“So how could the Democratic Republic of Vietnam offer what it did not own [Hoang Sa] to China at that time ?” Hai said, concluding that China has wrongfully cited the letter.
Beijing has positioned its Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig in Vietnamese waters since May 1 despite strong opposition from Hanoi.