Ms. Hang spoke about the above content at a regular press conference on November 4, when asked by reporters about Vietnam’s reaction to satellite images showing the Chinese fishing fleet. reappeared on Whitson Reef in the Sinh Ton cluster of the Truong Sa archipelago, and was reported by the state-controlled media on the same day.
Pham Thu Hang also affirmed:
“The fact that Chinese ships operate within the territorial sea of Sinh Ton Dong in the Spratly archipelago of Vietnam has seriously infringed on Vietnam’s sovereignty and violated the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 2014. 1982 (UNCLOS) and goes against the spirit and content of the claims of the parties in the East Sea [South China Sea].”
Ms. Hang also emphasized that Vietnam resolutely and persistently takes measures in accordance with international law to protect the above legal and legitimate rights.
Previously, on November 1, satellite photos taken by Planet Labs showed that dozens of Chinese fishing boats had returned to Whitson Reef after a few months of absence.
Whitson Reef belongs to Spratlys but is claimed by both China and the Philippines.
In a report released on October 22, the US Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said the number of Chinese ships at Whitson Reef has increased in the past three months. Most of them are Chinese ships, sometimes there are nearly 150 ships.
According to AMTI, the images show that these are most likely maritime militia ships because many of them are larger than 50 meters in size.
In late March, the Manila government published information about hundreds of Chinese maritime militia ships gathering near Whitson Reef, but at that time China thought it was fishing boats taking shelter from bad weather.
Meanwhile, satellite images show that Vietnam has built another island in the South China Sea.
This image shows the western tip of Nam Yet island – an island in the northwest of the Spratly archipelago – being expanded.
The government of the Republic of Vietnam began to manage this island in 1973 and called it Nam Yet. The North Vietnamese army took over the island in 1975 after the end of the Vietnam War.
Planet Labs’ satellite image dated October 30 shows construction activities on Nam Yet island, including a barge and a building foundation. These two images are not visible in the image taken on September 29, 2021.
Sources familiar with the development plan but not authorized to speak, say that Vietnam may be building a pier to facilitate access to the island.
Vietnamese experts say that the country often conducts anti-erosion and landslide protection works to protect rather than expand or change the structure of features under its control.
Simultaneously with Nam Yet, construction activities were also underway on Phan Vinh Island, another Vietnamese-controlled feature in the Spratlys. Through analysis of satellite images on October 30 and October 31, Radio Free Asia discovered that dredging work is taking place at the southern tip of this rocky island.
According to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), Vietnam has 49 or 51 outposts in the South China Sea scattered across 27 features, including 10 islets. AMTI said that so far there have been no clear reclamation activities in two of the 10 islets, An Bang and Niet Yet.
Nam Yet is a natural atoll with a total area of 13 acres, the fifth-largest among Vietnamese-controlled islands in the East Sea.
According to Vietnam’s state-controlled media, this is also one of the more developed islands with a number of new civil works including Buddhist temples, medical centers, cultural houses, and a nature reserve under construction.
Nam Yet is also claimed by China, the Philippines, and Taiwan.
China, which claims most of the South China Sea, has been criticizing other countries, especially Vietnam, for its island-building. However, as of 2016, Vietnam has only built up more than 120 new acres of land in the South China Sea compared with the nearly 3,000 that China has reclaimed, AMTI said.