“China’s military exercises in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands seriously violate Vietnamese sovereignty over this archipelago,” Vietnamese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement Wednesday.
Vietnamese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang. Photo: VOV
Hanoi raised voice right after China held illegal military training exercises near Paracel Islands in the South China Sea from 9:30 am to 11:30 am and from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Tuesday [August 6], and between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm Wednesday.
“As made in previous statements, Vietnam has all legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in accordance with international law,” the spokeswoman emphasized.
“On August 7, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered a diplomatic note opposing China’s violations,” Hang noted.
The protest followed an announcement on the drills issued Monday in which the Maritime Safety Administration of China’s Hainan Province said that all vessels were banned from entering the area while the drills were underway, VnExpress reported.
The latest drills lengthen China’s illegal actions within Vietnam’s territorial waters.
Earlier in March 2019, the giant neighboring country conducted live-fire drills in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa which China forcefully seized from then-South Vietnam regime in 1974 and occupies it since then. In May 2018, China launched similar excercises.
In June 2018, it held a five-day military drill in the north of Vietnam’s Truong Sa Islands which were partly occupied by China by force in 1988.
China’s illegal actions in Vietnam’s territorial waters continued in July when it sent geological survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 and armed escorts to Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
Beijing’s activities have ignited global protest, including strong criticism by the US. State Secretary Mike Pompeo at the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bangkok earlier this month criticized Chinese “coercion” in the South China Sea.
In March this year, Pompeo said China, by blocking development in the South China Sea through coercive measures, was preventing ASEAN members from accessing more than US$2.5 trillion in recoverable energy reserves.
In June 2019, satellite images taken by the US navy also showed that China had illegally deployed at least four J-10 fighter aircrafts in Vietnam’s Phu Lam (Woody) Island, the largest island in the Paracel archipelago.
In 2012, China established the so-called Sansha City on Woody Island, which also covers several island groups and atolls in the South China Sea including the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands, and the Scarborough Shoal.