At a regular press conference on May 13, Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang raised Hanoi’s position against China’s dispatch of nearly 300 ships to Whitsun Reef which is a part of the Truong Sa (Spratlys) where Vietnam claims sovereignty.
Responding to a reporter from Zing newspaper, Ms. Le Thi Thu Hang said that Vietnamese authorities always closely monitor developments in the South China Sea (Vietnam calls it the East Sea) and protect and exercise national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over the waters inconsistent with the provisions of international law, and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982.
“Vietnam once again affirms that it has sufficient historical evidence and legal basis to assert its sovereignty over the Truong Sa in accordance with international law. As a coastal state and a member of UNCLOS 1982, Vietnam enjoys sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its seas established in accordance with the 1982 UNCLOS.”
She said Vietnam has sufficient historical evidence and legal basis to assert its sovereignty over the Spratlys I in accordance with international law.
Both Vietnam and the Philippines claim sovereignty over Whitsun Reef.
On Wednesday, Manila said its patrols had detected 287 ships of the Chinese maritime militia in and around the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
National Security Advisor Hermongenes Esperon Jr. said a report on the presence of Chinese ships in the Spratlys has been submitted to the relevant authorities for further diplomatic action.
In March this year, China also sent about 200 ships into this area, prompting Manila to repeatedly send diplomatic protests, China not only did not respond to Manila’s request to withdraw its ships but it seemed to also mock the Philippines, the website Globalnation.inquirer said.
CNN on May 13 quoted experts as saying that China has established a “navy” of hundreds of ships with thousands of militias under Beijing’s control.
China does not acknowledge the presence of this “navy force” when questioned, but experts say the maritime militia is an integral part of Beijing’s efforts to assert its claims their sovereignty over the South China Sea and beyond.
CNN quoted experts as saying that the maritime militia, which is funded and controlled by the People’s Liberation Army, can immediately gather around shoals, islands, and rocks within the disputed area. The presence of those hundreds of so-called “fishing ships” is in fact a formidable force that is difficult to challenge without causing military conflict.
China claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, within the U-shaped line, ending the nine-dash line drawn by itself, and then established Sansha city to manage the artificial islands it built in the archipelagos the Hoang Sa (Paracels) and the Truong Sa in the South China Sea. China’s latest move, sending maritime militia ships massively to Whitsun Reef is also part of Beijing’s long-term strategy to assert its sovereignty over the South China Sea.