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East Vietnam Sea situation tops agenda of Vietnamese legislature’s session

East Vietnam Sea situation tops agenda of Vietnamese legislature’s session

Tuesday, May 20, 2014, 11:08 GMT+7

The ongoing situation in the East Vietnam Sea will be the focus of discussion among Vietnamese National Assembly (NA) deputies during the first day of the 7th session of the NA slated to open in Hanoi on Tuesday, NA Office chairman Nguyen Hanh Phuc said.

>> Deputy PM affirms Vietnam’s demand for removal of Chinese rig >> Vietnam demands reply from China over illegal oil rig>> Vietnam hub summons Chinese Consul General to protest illegal oil rig deployment>> China eyes sovereignty when illicitly putting oil rig in Vietnam’s waters: experts After hearing and discussing a report on the country’s social and economic development in the morning, the NA will debate the East Vietnam Sea situation during its afternoon meeting, Phuc told reporters in a press briefing on Monday. “China has deployed its drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf since May 1, seriously violating Vietnam’s sovereignty and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East [Vietnam] Sea (DOC),” the NA Office chairman said. By planting the rig in Vietnamese waters, China has also gone against the mutual consent between the high-ranking leaders of Vietnam and China, he added. “The NA will hear the government report about the current tense situation in the waters and propose solutions for it. NA deputies will then discuss the situation and solutions in detail,” the NA Office chairman said. He also agreed with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper’s proposal that after the NA holds a closed-door meeting about the issue, the NA Office should open a press conference to provide information to the media. When asked by Tuoi Tre what actions the NA will take in response to China’s violation, Phuc said the law-making body’s policy is to settle disputes in the East Vietnam Sea by peaceful means based on international law, including the UNCLOS. Parliamentary members in many countries have voiced their opposition to China’s violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty and their support for the Southeast Asian nation’s legitimate request that Beijing remove its rig from Vietnamese waters, Phuc said, adding that among the supporters are six U.S. members of parliament. “We will continue to call for more support from the international community for Vietnam. We must not only protect our sovereignty but also safeguard our maritime safety and freedom of navigation in the waters,” Phuc said. A reporter from Dau Tu (Investment) newspaper asked Phuc if the East Vietnam Sea face-off will affect the implementation of the country’s social and economic targets set for 2014, and if so, whether the NA will make changes to the targets. In reply, Phuc said he will communicate with the media about such issues after NA deputies discuss the government’s report on and solutions to the East Vietnam Sea stand-off, which has become extremely grave after China deployed its rig in Vietnamese waters. As previously reported, the Chinese oil rig is located at 15°29’58’’ North latitude and 111°12’06’’ East longitude in the East Vietnam Sea, which lies well within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs insisted.

China has so far deployed more than 130 vessels including warships to guard the rig despite strong opposition from the Vietnamese government and people.     On May 6, during a phone call with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi regarding the illegal operation of the oil rig, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh demanded that China move the drilling rig and escort vessels out of the area immediately and hold talks to resolve differences around the issue. As the Chinese rig and its escort ships remain in Vietnamese waters, Deputy PM Pham Binh Minh made a phone call to Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi on May 15, requesting that Chinese authorities respond to Vietnam’s demand that Beijing withdraw its rig from the sea area.

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