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Jan 30, 2021 / 13:30

Vietnam voices serious concern over China’s newly-enacted Coast Guard Law

Vietnam vows to conduct all possible measures to defend its legitimate sovereignty and jurisdiction in the East Sea.

Countries need to comply with international laws and treaties in making maritime laws related to the East Sea (refer to the South China Sea), Spokesperson of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang said at a press conference held in Hanoi on January 29.

Spokesperson of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang. Photo: Viet Linh  

Ms. Hang made the call while responding to a reporter’s query regarding the China’s Coast Guard Law, which was passed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, the top legislative body of China, on January 22.

She opposed the China’s law that allows the agency to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.”

“In making law on maritime, all countries are obliged to follow international law and treaties that they are signatory, mostly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS),” Ms. Hang said.

“Vietnam has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands in accordance with international law; sovereignty, sovereignty rights, and jurisdiction on waters defined in the UNCLOS; and determined to conduct all possible measures to defend the legitimate rights,” Ms. Hang said.

Vietnam demands countries to respect Vietnam’s sovereignty, sovereignty rights, and jurisdiction in the East Sea and be responsible for enforcing international law and UNCLOS without taking action that possibly escalate tension, actively contributing to building trust, maintaining peace and stability, and promoting maritime security in the sea.

International media reported that the law for the first time explicitly allows its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels, a move that could make the contested South China Sea and nearby waters choppier. It also allows demolition of other countries’ structures built on Chinese-claimed reefs.

China has maritime sovereignty disputes in the East China Sea with Japan and in the South China Sea with several Southeast Asian countries namely Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Chinese coast guard has chased away fishing vessels from other countries, harassed foreign fishermen within their waters, sometimes resulting in the sinking of these ships and causing deaths.