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Apr 07, 2020 / 22:58

Vietnam rejects Beijing’s South China Sea claims at United Nations

Vietnam said China’s claims go beyond the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations on March 30 sent a dispatch turning down China’s claims on the South China Sea, local media reported.

Vietnam made the protest after Beijing dismissed the Philippines and Malaysia’s dispatches to the UN in which the two nations blamed China for unilaterally claiming the majority of the sea.

 A Vietnamese soldier at Truong Sa islands in the South China Sea. Photo: Hoang Truong via VnExpress

“Vietnam strongly protests China’s claims revealed in the dispatches as they violate Vietnam’s sovereignty and jurisdictions in the South China Sea,” stated the dispatch sent to the UN.

The Vietnamese mission reiterated that Vietnam has historical evidence and legal basis to assert its sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in the South China Sea, which is known as the East Sea in Vietnam.

“Vietnam rejects China’s claim rights that go beyond the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and infringe on the UNCLOS-based rights of the other claimants.” Vietnam said that UNCLOS is the sole source for rights over waters.

The Vietnamese mission affirmed that Vietnam keeps its consistent stance on the issue. It requires the UN general secretary to circulate Vietnam’s dispatch to all UNCLOS members and UN state members.

On March 23, 2020, China sent a dispatch to the UN protesting the Philippines’ documents, saying that Beijing has legal rights to Nansha (which is Vietnam’s Truong Sa or Spratly) and surrounding waters and has historical and legal evidence of the sea.

On December 12, 2019, China sent dispatch to the UN to protest Malaysia’s accusations of Beijing’s claims, saying that it has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters, and enjoys sovereign rights and jurisdiction rights over the relevant waters as well as the seabed and subsoil thereof. It means that the sea covers Vietnam’s Hoang Sa.

Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung said at an international conference in Hanoi in November 2019 that Vietnam preferred negotiations but did have other options for the disputed waterway, according to Reuters.

“We know that these measures include fact-finding, mediation, conciliation, negotiation, arbitration and litigation measures,” Trung said.

“The UN Charter and UNCLOS 1982 have sufficient mechanisms for us to apply those measures,” he added, referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), an international treaty defining maritime territorial rights.

China claims almost all the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea where it has established military outposts on artificial islands, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam also have overlapping claims.