News / Asia

Vietnam Protests List of Chinese 'Sovereignty Violations'

Marianne Brown
Border demarcation contention continues to plague the South China Sea.  China's claim for the entire sea is denied by its regional neighbors.  This week, Vietnam released a media statement listing recent concerns about territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Among the so-called “sovereignty violations” was a map of China’s Sansha City, published last week, which includes the Paracel and Spratly islands, two areas also claimed by Vietnam.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi says Vietnam asked China to respect the country’s sovereignty, terminate the “wrongful acts” and not allow similar acts to be repeated.

The statement included an accusation that, on November 30, Chinese ships cut the cables of Vietnam’s Binh Minh 2, a seismic survey vessel. The ship belongs to state-owned oil and gas giant, PetroVietnam. The company accused China of cutting the survey cables at least twice last year, triggering weeks of anti-China protests in Vietnam’s major cities.

Deputy head of exploration, Pham Viet Dunung says the ship was operating within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.

He says many Chinese fishing boats were causing problems for the company’s activities.

In response to the allegations, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei says the government is investigating the allegation and that the fishermen were engaging in normal fishing activities in that part of the sea.

Topping Vietnam’s list of so-called territorial violations are revised border security regulations released by China’s Hainan province last week, which will affect the country’s coastal regions, including the contested archipelagos, from January First.

The plan says Chinese police may stop and search foreign ships which enter waters claimed by China in the South China Sea.  Monday, the Philippines called it a “gross violation” of international law, because China claims almost all the sea.

Analysts say the regulations could have serious consequences for the critical international shipping route, but that it depends how they are put into action.  Every country has the right to stop illegal activities within its territorial waters, says defense analyst Carl Thayer.

"So on the face of it, so what, it’s like blustering. But then if you transpose that in the attempt to take action in waters not around Hainan and even the Paracels, then they are really escalating the situation," he said.

Analysts say if the regulations are executed in disputed areas which are occupied by other countries, like Vietnam or the Philippines, then China could be accused of piracy or even an act of war.

Despite the the possible serious international implications, Thayer says Hainan authorities are responsible for the new regulations, not Beijing.

"I don’t think the central government in China ordered these or orchestrated them but it’s clear there has been a neglect by the central government and local authorities act as cowboys at sea," he said.

In the statement released Tuesday, Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokesman Nghi says the ministry has met with representatives from the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi, to give them a note protesting the recent incidents.

The same day, state media reported Vietnam had set up a "maritime surveillance force" which will have the authority to arrest crews and impose fines on foreign vessels within Vietnam's declared exclusive 370-kilometer economic zone. Analysts say the move is well-timed, rather than being a deliberate response.

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by: Rsdcliff from: Aus
December 09, 2012 9:22 PM
Nothing good could come out from a war between China and Vietnam except pain, more distrust and hatred so why don't both countries just st down and negotiate a join development of this disputed area and share the resources together.

by: Lesson Learned from: USA
December 07, 2012 4:09 PM
@jay Z. Do not underestimate Viet Nam. These are unbelievable tough and resilient people. They have tremendous pride, and will make the most daunting sacifices. And they've been fighting China for 1,000 years.

Viet Nam is the only country to defeat the United States on the open battlefield; with small arms no less. Not too shabby...

by: remie from: canada
December 06, 2012 7:39 AM
@jay Z, oh there will be a reaction and china is a bully. U chinese r the worst cry baby still crying about ww2 and japan but yet u do the worst ,pure hyprocrite


by: jay.z from: Cbus
December 05, 2012 12:58 PM
Really, Vietnam. Rather than crying about it, why don't you go do something about it? If you can. You may get sympathy and "it's ok" pats on the shoulder, but are you seeking islands or pity? You want the islands? Modernize your military, and then start whining.

(Good luck with that, by the way. I hear that Vietnam's currently not in condition to pick a fight with China.)

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