VietNamNet Bridge – Many lawyers, scholars and reporters in Sri Lanka have expressed their concerns over the ongoing East Sea tension, sparked by China’s dispatch of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou - 981 in Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, at a workshop recently held in capital Colombo.
The Chinese rig’s illegal presence in Vietnam’s waters from early May has stoked public outrage at home and abroad, Vietnamese Ambassador Ton Sinh Thanh told participants, adding that it poses a threat to peace, stability, maritime security and safety in the East Sea.
He condemned the act as a serious violation of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea.
While urging China to pull its rig out of the area, Vietnam has exercised its utmost restraint and sought to talk with China on over 30 occasions. Meanwhile, the neighbour, apart from turning down the offer, has deployed a large number of military ships to the rig site to intimidate, encircle and even brazenly ram into Vietnamese fisheries surveillance and fishing boats, he pointed out.
Chairman of the Communist Party of Sri Lanka Raja Collure voiced his support to Vietnam’s peaceful means in the process, saying that parties concerned should sit together for talks to peacefully address the issue.
Lawyer M.A. Razwi, in his speech, traced back Vietnam’s long history of managing and exercising its sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, citing the building of a lighthouse there in 1889 under the instruction of Governor General of French Indochina Paul Doumer.
He also denounced China’s use of force to occupy Hoang Sa archipelago in 1974 as illegal.
Thiyagarajah, a student from Bishop college, suggested holding more public activities, including workshops of this kind to expose the true nature of the issue to the world community and rally their support to Vietnam.
Ambassador Thanh also answered relevant queries at the event, making it clear that China has claimed a nine-dash line to turn the non-disputed waters into disputed waters.
He dismissed China’s argument that Vietnam has recently quested for sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly), saying that the country has sufficient historical evidence proving its peaceful and continuous management over the two archipelagos.
In 1954-1975, Hoang Sa and Truong Sa were under the control of the southern administration. Since Vietnam’s reunification in 1975, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has inherited the sovereignty over the two archipelagos, he said.
At the beginning of May, China illegally dispatched its oil rig and a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft to Vietnam’s waters and positioned the rig at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude, 80 miles deep into Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.
Despite Vietnam’s protest, China expanded its scale of operation and moved the rig to 15 degrees 33 minutes 36 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 11 seconds east longitude, 60 nautical miles deep inside Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.
On June 24, China sent 102 – 108 vessels, including six military ships, to protect its rig and harass Vietnamese ships.
Braving China’s aggressive acts, Vietnamese ships still stayed there to perform their law enforcement duties.