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Press Conference on Chinese maritime surveillance vessel's cutting exploration cable of PetroViet Nam Seismic Vessel

On May 29, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam held a press conference regarding the May 26 incident in which a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel cut the exploration cables of Binh Minh 02 seismic vessel of Viet Nam National Oil and Gas Group (PVN) while it was conducting seismic survey in the continental shelf of Viet Nam.

1. At the press conference, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nguyen Phuong Nga made the following statement:

Viet Nam is resolutely opposed to the China’s act that damaged and hindered the Viet Nam’s normal survey and exploration activities within the Vietnamese continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, inflicting severe damages on Viet Nam National Oil and Gas Group. The Chinese act is a serious violation of the sovereign and jurisdiction rights of Viet Nam to its continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, runs counter to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, goes against the spirit and literature of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed between ASEAN and China in 2002 and the common perception of senior leaders of the two countries. Viet Nam asks China to immediately cease and refrain from recurrence of acts that infringe upon Viet Nam’s sovereign and jurisdiction rights to its continental shelf and exclusive economic zone and to compensate for the damages caused to Viet Nam”.

2. Concerning Viet Nam’s reaction to the May 28 remark made by the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson which stated that “The oil and gas operations conducted by Viet Nam have undermined China's interests and jurisdictional rights in the “South China Sea” and violated the consensus both countries have reached on the “South China Sea” issue… What relevant Chinese departments did was completely normal marine law-enforcement and surveillance activities in China's jurisdictional sea area. China has been committed to safeguarding the peace and stability in the South China Sea”, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nguyen Phuong Nga clearly stated that:

We refute the statement made by the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson on May 28th 2011 concerning this matter.

There are a number of points that need to be clarified:

Firstly, the area where Viet Nam conducted exploration activities situates entirely in the exclusive economic zone and the 200-nautical mile continental shelf of Viet Nam in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It is neither a disputed area nor is it an area “managed by China”. China has deliberately misled the public into thinking that it is a disputed area.

Secondly, Viet Nam always complies with the common perception of senior leaders of the two countries that all disputes be resolved through peaceful measures and acts that further complicate the situation be avoided. There is no such common perception that states China has the right to hinder Viet Nam’s activities within the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf of Viet Nam. It is the China’s act that goes against the common perception of senior leaders of the two countries.

Thirdly, while China calls for addressing related disputes through peaceful measures, it is its own acts that are complicating the situation in the East Sea.


3. Concerning question on whether China is nurturing an intension to turn the East Sea into its “home pond” by asserting the nine-dash line claim, especially in the context that China recently had a series of clashes with both Viet Nam and the Philippines in the East Sea, Vice Chairman of the National Border Committee of Viet Nam Nguyen Duy Chien responded that:

China’s nine-dash line in the East Sea, aka “Bull tongue-shaped line”, is completely legally groundless and is in contrary to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to which China is a party. The claim encroaches the exclusive economic zones and the continental shelves of many regional countries, including Viet Nam, and thus are rejected by many countries. China’s attempt to realize this claim is in fact escalating tensions in the region.”

4. Concerning question on whether the incident is an indication of Chinese chauvinism, given that Chinese leaders have repeatedly declared that “China advocates peaceful settlement of disputes" and that “however powerful, China will never act as a hegemon”, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nguyen Phuong Nga said:

We hope China will take a responsible role of a power in line with the spirit of its leaders’ proclamations”. /.

 
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