An American PhD and lawyer who worked for a number of years in Vietnam has told VOA that when he read the newspaper and saw the video of Chinese ships sinking Vietnamese fishing vessels, as a human being and an American citizen, the images made him angry and determined to do something.
Dr. Dale J. Montpelier, who used to be the legal advisor for oil and gas disputes with Vietnam, revealed to VOA that he sent a letter to the Vietnamese Embassy in the US and suggested free consultation for Vietnam to sue China for international court on sovereignty issues in the East Sea (South China Sea).
“I realize the painful loss if the Vietnamese people do not protect what is legal for them from China’s illegal invasion,” lawyer Montpelier wrote in a letter to Ambassador Ha Kim Ngoc that VOA read.
Sending a letter of request to the Vietnamese government late last year, amid rising news about China’s access to and use of Cambodian military ports, Montpelier also warned Vietnam that “the problem will be much worse” in the future.
Talking to VOA, a lawyer with 25 years of experience said that Vietnam can use all the information, data, arguments from the Philippines case against China in the International Court of Justice in La Haye, but Vietnam should do more.
Lawyer Montpelier said it would not be difficult for Vietnam to object to China’s arguments and win against Beijing before an international court. However, according to him, “The problem with China, which we’ve seen in history and so much in the last 5 to 10 years, is that China doesn’t recognize the verdict. China only uses ruling that is useful to itself. As for the ruling they don’t like, such as the Philippines’ verdict from the permanent arbitrator court, China just ignored and pretended it had no effect on them.”
The American lawyer told VOA that although he had not spoken to any Vietnamese government official about the detailed strategy, in his view, once Vietnam decides to sue China in a national court, it must prepare to force China to recognize and respect the ruling.
“The problem here is, for anyone who follows the case and any business doing business in China, if the Chinese government doesn’t respect the ruling of a court or arbitral tribunal,” he said. On the other hand, how can a US business, a Singapore business, a Vietnamese business believe that China will respect the agreement with them?
There is nothing to stop China from breaking agreements if the government actually doesn’t respect the law. So this is a more diplomatic issue, but that is definitely the second step that needs to be taken.
The American law doctor said Vietnam needs to make China realize that doing business in the modern world depends on whether the government respects the law or not.
He added: “China needs to recognize the punishment. If China does not recognize the verdict, then the penalty will be in dollars and trade. On the Vietnamese side, the government, the people and the companies will still do business with China when Beijing don’t respect the agreement or the court rulings? No one has put China in this situation yet. Nobody said ‘We don’t need the money’, but what is more important is that you have to respect the law. Once big companies or a government dare to do that, China will have to change its actions. Therefore, the government (Vietnam) needs to be supportive, it is necessary to be determined to ensure that China follows the court ruling.”
In the face of Vietnam’s economic dependence on China, Mr. Montpelier said that this is not a separate situation for Vietnam, but the whole world.
Analyzing the actual situation during the current Covid-19 pandemic, he said many countries, including the United States and some European countries, realized their “big mistake” in investing too much in China makes their economies dependent on it.
So, according to him, “once countries unite and make decisions, once they say ‘Enough’ and pull out of the Chinese economy, then everything will change. That’s when China really loses power.”
“Once Vietnam realizes that it can be economically independent and can have trade relations with other countries, it will go a long way to breaking Chinese control. China will do whatever it can think of to steal that land. Therefore, the Vietnamese government needs to be creative, it needs to use all possible resources to force China to recognize the fact that it does not own those islands, Montpelier added.
After working in Vietnam, lawyer Dale Montpelier said that he married a Vietnamese woman and considered Vietnam as his second home.
He adds: “I just want to help. I am ready to stand up and say ‘Enough,’ and I am willing to devote my talents to the Vietnamese government if they need help. It was just a suggestion. I did not do it to expect any work or benefit. But if people like me do not stand up and say ‘Enough’ when it is time to stand up for their rights and the interests of their families in Vietnam, China will win. I am willing to be a volunteer. I will not let China win. I will not let to be defeated by China. If Vietnam needs my help, they certainly have it.”
So far, LS. Montpelier has yet to receive a response from the Vietnamese government after months of sending a letter to the Vietnamese Embassy in the US.
Earlier this week, the US also made an important and beneficial move for Vietnam when the U.S. delegation at the United Nations on June 1 sent a note protesting Beijing’s sovereignty claim over the South China Sea. The US note said that the “historic rights” that Beijing claimed had “exceeded the maritime rights enjoyed by China as reflected in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
According to author David Hutt in Asia Times on May 7, 2020, Hanoi is considering suing Beijing before an international arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea issue.
Vietnam is said to be preparing a case in an international arbitration court against China’s unjustified South China Sea claim. This may be a legal response to the growing threat of China and harassment on the disputed maritime route.
Analysts who are watching the situation believe that Hanoi can file a lawsuit – similar to the Philippines that it did before, and won China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration La Haye in July 2016. The court ruling asserted that China has “no historical right” over the nine-dash cow’s line that Beijing uses to claim nearly 90% of the South China Sea. China refused to participate in the lawsuit and declared not accepting the verdict, which has no enforcement mechanism.
Alexandre Vuving, professor of the Daniel K Inouye Security Research Center in Honolulu, Hawai, said that since last year “there has been a lot more voices among the authorities in Hanoi, calling for bringing China to court.”
Derek Grossman, an analyst at the think tank RAND Corporation in Washington, said he had no information on Hanoi’s preparation to bring it to international courts, but heard from government sources that the proposal was being considered. serious.
An anonymous diplomatic source told Asia Times that discussions in Hanoi about an international lawsuit are now more intense than before.
In an annual meeting on the South China Sea held by the Vietnam Diplomatic Academy in November last year, Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung publicly raised this issue. This is the first time in nearly 5 years, a senior official mentioned. Mr. Trung said: “The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 has fully planned mechanisms to apply this measure.”
Vietnam is increasingly motivated to bring China to court. The HD 8 spent the whole of 2019 to harass an energy exploration joint venture with Russia in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea. This harassment continues this year, despite the corona virus pandemic.
On April 3, a Vietnamese fishing boat was scuttled by a Chinese coast guard near the Paracels. On April 13, Geological Ocean 8 reappeared at Vietnam’s EEZ. A few days later, the Chinese government announced the establishment of two districts “Xisha” and “Nansha” in the Paracels and the Truong Sa (Spratlys), the two archipelagos Vietnam always asserts its sovereignty.