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Vietnam customs to confiscate Volkswagen car with illicit ‘nine-dash line’ map

Tuesday, November 05, 2019, 15:34 GMT+7
Vietnam customs to confiscate Volkswagen car with illicit ‘nine-dash line’ map
People watch a Volkswagen car on display ar the Vietnam Motor Show 2019 in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Vietnam Customs has decided to confiscate a Volkswagen car and slapped its importer with a hefty fine after the car was found to have a navigation app containing a map with the illicit ‘nine-dash line’ while on exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City last month.

During the Vietnam Motor Show (VMS) 2019 that took place in Ho Chi Minh City from October 23 to 27, a visitor discovered the ‘nine-dash line’ depicted on a map used in the default navigation app of a Volkswagen Touareg CR745J car on display.

Oto VW Viet Nam Co. Ltd, doing business as Volkswagen Vietnam, later admitted it had borrowed the vehicle for the display from a Chinese partner through an importer.

The ‘nine-dash line’ is an arbitrary demarcation line used on Chinese maps to illustrate Beijing’s illegal and unilaterally declared claims to vast expanses of the East Vietnam Sea, including large swathes of Vietnam’s Continental Shelf.

Since the issue was brought to public attention, the general customs department has convened two meetings with several relevant ministries and agencies on October 29 and November 4 to discuss what to do with the car.

The results of the meetings were announced on Monday afternoon.

Accordingly, the Volkswagen Touareg CR745J car will be impounded as evidence as per a 2013 government decree on regulating sanctions for administrative violations in press and publication activities.

According to the decree’s Articles 20 and 28, it is illegal to import or use images containing maps that do not show or improperly display Vietnam’s sovereignty.

Previously, the Vietnam Customs said it was mulling wrecking the vehicle as part of the “tough measures” to handle the violation.

The car will now be added to state assets under the newly-taken measure.

A representative of the general customs department told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the agency will also remove the navigation app containing the ‘nine-dash line’ map from the car.

In addition, the department will impose a VND40-60 million (US$1,718-2,577) fine on Oto The Gioi Co. Ltd, which imported the car from China, as well as suspending the company’s operation for 6-9 months.

Oto The Gioi Co. Ltd. will also be fined VND10-20 million ($430-859) for “changing the status quo of products temporarily imported for re-export” as the importer had blocked access to the vehicle’s navigation app upon discovering the map before the 2019 VMS began.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen Vietnam will be fined VND20-40 million ($859-1,718) for exhibiting the car.

The General Department of Vietnam Customs also suggested that the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Industry and Trade take measures against the organizers of the motor show for violating the country’s 2005 Law on Commerce.

The general customs department said it will report to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on the results of the execution of the aforementioned measures.

In the report, it also seeks to propose a regulation on checking navigation apps installed in automobiles during vehicle quality inspection in the future.

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