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Press Release on current developments in the East Sea
06-01-2014, 12:28 am


Current developments in the East Sea

and Viet Nam's Position on the Situation

(New York, 29 May 2014)


          China’s illegal placement and operation of drilling platform Haiyang Shiyou 981 (HD-981) in Viet Nam’s Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf since 1 May 2014, together with the deployment and aggressive behavior of China’s accompanying vessels, including naval ships, violate Viet Nam’s sovereign and jurisdictional rights as  prescribed in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), go against relevant regional and bilateral agreements, and pose a serious threat to peace and stability in the region as well as to maritime security and safety, and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea of Viet Nam (South China Sea).


1. On 2 May 2014, the competent authorities of Viet Nam detected the southward movement of the HD-981 deep water drilling platform and three oil and gas service ships of China from the North West of Tri Ton Island (Triton Island) of the Hoang Sa Archipelago of Viet Nam. At 16.00 the same day, the HD-981 drilling platform was detected, and remained for 27 days, floating at the co-ordinate of 15°29'58" North latitude and 111°12'06" East longitude, south of Tri Ton Island, 130 nautical miles from Viet Nam's coastal line and 119 nautical miles from Ly Son Island (See the Map). On 27 May 2014, the oil rig was moved to the co-ordinate of 15o33’38”North latitude and 111o34’62” East longtitude, 25 nautical miles east-southeast of Tri Ton Island, 23 nautical miles east-northeast from the previous location. Both locations are well within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf of Viet Nam (See the Map).

China installed this oil rig to conduct exploration drills in Vietnam’s EEZ and Continental Shelf. To prevent Viet Nam’s law enforcement activities in Viet Nam’s waters, China mobilized numerous ships and aircrafts, including anti-submarine ships, missile-armed frigates, fast-attack missile ships, minesweepers and fighter jets. The number of China's escorting ships in the vicinity of the drilling platform was 136 at its peak and remains to be approximately 120 at the moment, apart from a large number of steel-hull fishing ships. These escorting ships have relentlessly rammed and collided with Vietnamese Maritime Police and Fisheries Control ships as well as fishing boats, causing injuries to Vietnamese sailors and damages to Viet Nam’s vessels. Most recently, on 26 May 2014, China’s vessels rammed and sunk one Vietnamese boat, with 10 fishermen, which was operating in the traditional fishery area close to Hoang Sa Archipelago (Paracel). All the crew members were rescued by Vietnamese vessels.

2. Viet Nam has full historical evidence and legal basis for its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Archipelago (Paracel). Viet Nam was exercising effective and actual administration over the Archipelago and it was unlawfully taken over by force and occupied by China in 1974. Viet Nam’s EEZ and Continental Shelf have been identified in full conformity with UNCLOS. Viet Nam demands that China respect Viet Nam's sovereignty over Hoang Sa Archipelago (Paracel) and Viet Nam's sovereign and jurisdictional rights in its EEZ and Continental Shelf. Viet Nam also consistently requests that both sides settle the dispute over Hoang Sa Archipelago (Paracel) and other disputes through negotiations and other peaceful means in accordance with international law, including the UN Charter and UNCLOS.

Viet Nam actively joined efforts to arrive at the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by ASEAN Member States and China in 2002, which reaffirms, inter alia, that the Parties concerned undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability, and to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including UNCLOS. In 2011, Viet Nam signed with China the Agreement on Basic Principles Guiding the Settlement of Disputes at Sea between Viet Nam and China, in which both sides agreed to abide by agreements and the consensus reached by the senior leaders of the two countries and DOC.

3. On that basis, since 2 May 2014, Viet Nam has communicated with the Chinese side more than twenty times to reject in the strongest and most resolute terms the wrongful and unconstructive position of China and most strongly demand that China withdraw without delay and pre-condition the HD-981 drilling platform and its accompanying ships from the Vietnamese EEZ and continental shelf.

These communications include the meeting between Viet Nam’s Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan and China’s President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the 4th Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in China on 21 May 2014, and that between Viet Nam’s Minister of Defense Phung Quang Thanh and his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan on 19 May 2014 on the sidelines of the 8th ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting in Myanmar. There have been communications between the Ministry of Defense of Viet Nam and the Military Attaché of the Chinese Embassy in Ha Noi, and those between the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (Petro Viet Nam) and the CEO and Chairman of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). Viet Nam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has had eight communications with the Chinese side in Ha Noi and Beijing. Viet Nam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh had phone conversations with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on 6 May 2014 and with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on 15 May 2014. On 4 May 2014, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ho Xuan Son, Chief of the Vietnamese Government Delegation on Border and Territory Negotiation, held a phone conversation with his Chinese counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin. Also on 4 May 2014, the Ministry representative summoned the Charge d'Affaires of the Embassy of China in Ha Noi to hand over a Note Verbale of protest.

The entire Vietnamese nation has been protesting against the wrongdoings of China. On 21 May 2014, the National Assembly of Viet Nam issued a communiqué that, inter alia, expressed concerns over the serious situation on the East Sea, reaffirmed that peace and security are being threatened, resolutely opposed violations by the Chinese side, and demanded China to withdraw its drilling rig and accompanying vessels out of Viet Nam’s waters. In various cities in Viet Nam and many countries around the world, Vietnamese people have spontaneously launched peaceful demonstrations against China’s illegal acts. In the wake of some incidents of violence affecting business activities in some locations of Viet Nam, the Vietnamese Government has timely responded and strictly sanctioned the perpetrators in accordance with Viet Nam’s laws. As a result, the situation has been contained and all activities are back to normal. The affected businesses have received appropriate assistance and most of them have resumed normal business and production activities.

4. As stated clearly in the speeches by Viet Nam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at 24th ASEAN Summit in Myanmar on 11 May, 2014 and at the World Economic Forum on East Asia in the Philippines on 22 May 2014, Viet Nam has showed every gesture of goodwill and utilized all dialogue channels to communicate with the Chinese authorities of different levels to protest China’s illegal activities and demand China to immediately withdraw its drilling rig and its accompanying vessels from the Vietnamese waters. Viet Nam has also exercised utmost restraint in utilizing only civilian ships from Viet Nam’s Maritime Police and Fisheries Control to prevent China’s illegal activities. Viet Nam always attaches importance to and spares no effort in preserving and strengthening good friendly relations with China. It is always Viet Nam’s sincere desire to work with China for the settlement of disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international laws, and on the basis of equality and mutual respect, in the interest of the Chinese and Vietnamese peoples, the two countries’ friendship and that of peace and stability in the region and the world. However, national territory is sacred, and Viet Nam vehemently denounces acts of infringement and will resolutely protect our national sovereignty and legitimate interests in conformity with international law.

5. Despite Viet Nam’s requests that stress dialogue and self-restraint, China has failed to respond to Viet Nam’s legitimate demand, and furthermore has been slandering and blaming Viet Nam while continuing to escalate its serious acts of violations and dangerous behavior of utilizing advanced military ships and aircrafts.

China claims that its operations of the HD-981 drilling platform are “normal activities” in the South of so-called “Zhongjian” Island (Tri Ton Island) which belongs to the so-called “Xi Sha” Island (Hoang Sa Archipelago of Viet Nam illegally occupied by China by force since 1974) and “do not relate” to Viet Nam's EEZ and Continental Shelf. China claim that this was the area belonging to the territorial waters and contiguous zone of the so-called “Xi Sha” Island and these activities were “normal exploration” in the “undisputed waters under the management of China”. China does not pay heed to Viet Nam's request to negotiate on the sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Archipelago (Paracel). China claims that Viet Nam has used naval ships to “disrupt” their activities, and that Vietnamese vessels rammed Chinese ones 171 times from 3 to 7 May 2014, but failed to provide any evidence in this regard. More dangerously, China has been maintaining the continued and intensified presence of its oil rig and ships in the Vietnamese waters. China continues to deploy a number of advanced naval ships and fighter jets around and over the oil rig and surrounding waters, preventing freedom of navigation within an expansive parameter around the oil rig ranging from 5 to 10 nautical miles. China’s ships have unceasingly been ramming Viet Nam’s vessels, causing damages and injuries to the crews. All of these acts by China have been visibly reflected in internationally accessible photos and video clips.

All of these acts by China therefore clearly constitute an intentional and grave violation of Viet Nam's sovereignty and jurisdiction on the Hoang Sa Archipelago (Paracel) and its EEZ and Continental Shelf. They also seriously violate the above-mentioned agreements reached between the leaders of the two countries and go against the spirit and language of the DOC and relevant provisions of international law, particularly UNCLOS. China's wrongful acts negatively affect maritime security and safety in the South China Sea and directly threaten peace, stability and cooperation in the region and the world. Viet Nam strongly rejects China’s illegal acts as well as its above-mentioned groundless allegations.

6. Viet Nam expresses our heartfelt thanks to countries and friends all over the world for their sympathy and support to Viet Nam’s defence of its national sovereignty and legitimate interest in conformity with international law, including for evincing concerns over unilateral and aggressive acts.

In the face of China’s continued wrongful acts as detailed above, the Government of Viet Nam whence kindly requests the Governments of all countries to continue voicing criticism against these acts and to request China to withdraw the HD-981 drilling platform and its accompanying vessels out of the waters of Viet Nam in respect of rights and interests of all littoral countries in accordance with UNCLOS. China should be requested to fully observe DOC, ensure maritime and aerial safety and security in the East Sea. It should also be requested to work with Viet Nam for expeditious settlement of disputes through peaceful means in accordance with international law, in the interest of the Chinese and Vietnamese peoples and friendship between the two countries, with a view to contributing to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region./.


Print version

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