Chinese Ships Must Leave Vietnamese Waters, Hanoi Again Demands

Hà Nội (RFA): Vietnam renewed calls on China on Thursday to withdraw from waters claimed by Vietnam, saying that the continued presence of the Chinese oil survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 and escort vessels in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) violates Vietnam’s sovereign territory.

China’s intrusions into Vietnam’s EEZ challenge Vietnam’s jurisdiction and threaten peace and stability in the area, foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said, according to a Sept. 12 report by Vietnam’s online VN Express news service.

“For all these reasons, Vietnam demands that China immediately stop this activity and remove the vessels,” Hang said.

This is the third time that Vietnam has demanded China withdraw from Vietnamese waters since the ships’ Aug. 13 return, VN Express noted in its report.

China’s Haiyang Dizhi 8 survey ship first entered Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone in early July to conduct seismic surveys, triggering a tense standoff between military and coast guard vessels from Vietnam and China.

It moved out of Vietnam’s EEZ on Aug. 7 and toward Fiery Cross Reef, a militarized reef occupied by China farther out in the South China Sea, but later returned under escort, prompting new demands from Vietnam that it leave.

A large Chinese crane vessel, the Lan Jing, has also recently been seen sailing near Vietnam’s EEZ, Hang said on Thursday, adding, “The vessel’s activities are being observed by Vietnamese authorities in accordance with international laws,” VN Express said in its report.

Under provisions set by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), foreign ships may sail past other countries’ waters but may not conduct surveys there.

“Acts that hinder Vietnam’s oil and gas activities in its [own] waters are violations of international law and the UNCLOS,” Hang said on Thursday.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, called the East Sea by Vietnam. The Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam also have overlapping territorial claims to the sea, which is vital to international shipping and trade.

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