China’s state-controlled media has accused Vietnam of “encroaching” on their territorial waters and warned that Washington’s “support” for Hanoi will escalate tensions in the East Sea (South China Sea), at the same time. China brought Haiyang Dizhi 8 seismic ship back to Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.
The Communist Party of China (CPC)’s Global Times reported that Vietnamese fishing vessels hit Chinese maritime vessels near the Hoang Sa (Paracels) earlier this month and sent a protest note “for the purpose of seeking compensation” against economic pressure because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on April 3 said it had “interacted with the Chinese embassy representative and handed a protest note” as well as demanded that Beijing “adequately compensate for Vietnamese fishermen’s losses.” After the QNg 90617 TS fishing boat and 8 Vietnamese fishermen were sunk earlier by the Chinese coast guard on the same day.
However, China said that Vietnamese fishing vessels “violated Chinese territorial waters and damaged their maritime vessels,” according to an April 11 editorial by Global Times – a publication of CPC’s People’s Daily. The newspaper said, “China has enough video evidence of what actually happened during the clash to prove its innocence.”
Commenting on this issue, Professor Carl Thayer of the University of New South Wales – an analyst on Vietnam and regional issues – said that China’s statement that Vietnamese fishing vessels crashed Chinese maritime vessels is a “propaganda and completely distracting” public opinion. According to the Australian Defense Academy professor, there should be more details about the clash, which China “has not provided video evidence to support its claim.”
VOA contacted the spokesperson of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to comment on the allegations of the Chinese newspaper and whether Hanoi asked Beijing to provide evidence of a Vietnamese fishing vessel’s attack against China’s maritime ships, but haven’t received a response.
Global Times also said that Vietnam “seeks compensation” in the clash in the East Sea amid economic pressures when giving data showing that “more than 300 Vietnamese enterprises are suspending operations, and more than 40,000 at risk of unemployment” amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Chinese newspaper said that Vietnam used the clash in the East Sea at this time to distract the “weak” in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the US government has criticized China in the clash with Vietnamese fishing vessels on April 3 near the Hoang Sa. The State Department, the Department of Defense, and at least five US senators have issued notices announcing that Chinese maritime vessels are the culprits of the sinking of Vietnamese fishing vessels. The US says it will continue to support allies and partners in the region to ensure freedom of navigation and economic development opportunities in the Indo-Pacific. Last month, the US sent an aircraft carrier to Da Nang port.
In the face of US criticism, Global Times reported that Washington was “on the side” with Hanoi and “blaming” Beijing.
“The immediate support of the US will encourage the Vietnamese government and Vietnamese fishermen to participate in IUU fishing (illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing),” said the Global Times, adding that this would infringe China’s interests and territorial rights around the islands in Hoang Sa “shamelessly.”
“This is likely to escalate tensions between China and Vietnam,” the Beijing newspaper warned, concluding that “both the US and Vietnam are setting fire to achieve their political goals.”
Just days after the Global Times warned of an escalation, China immediately sent the Haiyang Dizhi 8
8 survey ship back to Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.
According to Reuters’ maritime voyage data, the Haiyang Dizhi 8 – which conducted seismic surveys in Vietnamese territorial waters for months last year – appeared on April 14 off the south coast of Vietnam, about 158 km and in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. The ship was escorted by at least one Chinese coast guard. Also according to this data, at least 3 Vietnamese ships are following the direction of Chinese vessels.
Commenting on China’s return of the survey ship to Vietnam, Dr. Ha Hoang Hop of Singapore-based ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute of Southeast Asia, told Reuters that this was “Beijing’s action to once again making unfounded claims over the East Sea.”
“China is taking advantage of the diversion into the Covid-19 pandemic to strengthen its claim in the East Sea between the time the US and Europe are dealing with a new virus,” said Dr. Hop.
To oppose China’s sovereignty claims in the East Sea, Vietnam said on April 7 it had sent a note to the UN, after the Philippines and Malaysia had similar moves.
The note sent by the Vietnamese permanent mission to the United Nations to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that China’s sovereignty claims “seriously violated Vietnam’s sovereignt and jurisdiction” in the East Sea.
But on April 14, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the Xisha Islands – which Vietnam calls the Hoang Sa (Paracels), and Nansha – as Truong Sa (Spratlys) as Vietnam calls it – belong to Chinese territory and that Vietnam’s sovereignty claim is “illegal and invalid.”
Beijing spokesman Zhao Lap Kien said Vietnam’s sovereignty claims “violated international laws including the UN Charter and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has voiced information about Chinese vessels entering Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Vietnamese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang affirmed that Vietnamese authorities were closely monitoring developments in the East Sea.
Le Thi Thu Hang confirmed that when answering a reporter’s question on April 14 about the news that a group of Chinese ships violated Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the East Sea.
“Vietnam requests countries to comply with relevant provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, international law in their activities and contribute to peace, stability and cooperation in the East Sea,” the spokesperson emphasized.
Reuters reported yesterday citing information from Marine Traffic, a website that tracks the movements of ships around the world, saying that the survey ship, Ocean 8 and at least one Chinese maritime vessel, has violated Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, 158 km from the coast of Vietnam.
Earlier, in July 2019, a Chinese survey ship group, including Haiyang Dizhi 8, repeatedly violated Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in the southern part of the East Sea. This is a complete sea of Vietnam, defined in accordance with the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 of which Vietnam and China are members.
By the end of October 2019, the new group of ships withdrew after Vietnam repeatedly contacted with the Chinese side in different channels, handing protest notes, resolutely requesting an immediate termination of the violations.
As reported by Chinese media, at a press conference, when a reporter asked: “It is reported that a Vietnamese fishing boat sank after colliding with a Chinese Coast Guard ship in the Xisha Sea (ie Hoang Sa is under Vietnamese sovereignty) in the early morning of April 2. Can you confirm this? What comment does China have?”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying replied, “Early in the morning of April 2, Chinese coast guard vessels during a periodic patrol discovered a Vietnamese fishing boat invading and catching fish in China’s Xisha Islands (ie Hoang Sa under Vietnamese sovereignty), it immediately called out to dispel. This fishing boat refused to leave and suddenly turned toward the China Coast Guard. Although the Chinese Coast Guard tried its best to avoid it, the Vietnamese fishing boat stabbed its nose and the fishing boat sank. China Coast Guard immediately rescued Vietnamese fishing boats. All 8 Vietnamese fishermen aboard were rescued without being injured. After conducting the investigation procedure and collecting necessary evidence, China’s authorities gave 8 fishermen repatriated.”
Ms. Hua Chunying also misrepresented the normal fishing activities of Viêtnamese fishermen in their traditional fishing grounds of Hoang Sa when saying: in recent times, Vietnamese fishing vessels “regularly invade the territorial waters and internal waters of China’s Xisha Islands catch fish, ignore Chinese law enforcement and even take dangerous actions against Chinese law enforcement” and “China has expressed serious concern and strong dissatisfaction with Vietnam on this issue, asking the Vietnamese side to effectively educate and control its fishing vessels and fishermen, not to infringe upon them. Catching fish in the related waters of China’s Xisha Islands is unlikely to take dangerous action against Chinese law enforcement.”
Consecutively in recent days, US senators have spoken out about the incident of Chinese maritime vessels sinking Vietnamese fishing vessels in the East Sea.
On April 11, the Republican Senator of the Republic of Arkansas, Tom Cotton, issued a statement announcing the Chinese coast guard ship’s sinking of Vietnamese fishing vessels near the Hoang Sa.
“China attacked fishermen to enforce illegal claims in the South China Sea. The US sided with its allies and partners in Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam, in protecting citizens and their sovereignty from Chinese aggression, “said Tom Cotton in the statement.
Cotton is the fifth US senator to speak out about China’s sinking of Vietnamese fishing vessels and the deployment of military aircraft in the East Sea.
Earlier, the Department of Defense and the US Department of State also condemned Chinese maritime vessels as the culprits of the sinking of Vietnamese fishing vessels in the East Sea, and stressed Washington would continue to support partners to protect freedom. shipping.
The US Department of Defense released a statement that “the United States will continue to support the efforts of allies and partners to ensure freedom of navigation and economic opportunity in the entire Indo-Pacific region.” .
The press emphasized: “The Covid-19 pandemic emphasizes the importance of a rule-based international order, because it facilitates us to address this common threat in a transparent way, focused and effective.”
Observers rated this as a heavy US declaration to the fact that Chinese maritime vessels sunk a Vietnamese fishing vessel carrying eight fishermen in the Hoang Sa in the East Sea last week.
A regional political and security analyst and observer said: “I understand that the US Department of Defense statement is more severe than the US State Department statement. ”
Facing the situation when China escalates its acts of infringing upon Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea, the Vietnamese army needs to prepare well to defend the country.
On the domestic side, the Communist Party of Vietnam needs to implement the constitution from the beginning to gain independence – that is Democratization with free elections for over 90 million people of this country.
On the external side, with evidence of intrusions and misperceptions of Beijing’s sovereignty, they have shown aggression and are always looking for ways to bully Vietnam.
This is also the time when Hanoi needs to plan to sue China as soon as possible in the international court, in order to receive the support of the Democratic and Liberal countries in the world.
Hoang Trung from Hanoi – Thoibao.de (Translated)