China has seriously infringed upon Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago in the East Vietnam Sea by launching a military exercise covering the group of islands, a Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.
The Chinese maritime safety administration announced on Sunday in a brief online statement that Beijing would hold military drills between July 5 and 11 in the East Vietnam Sea, an area that spans east of China's Hainan Island down to and including Vietnam’s Hoang Sa.
The announcement came just one week ahead of a decision set for July 12 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in a dispute between China and the Philippines over territory in the East Vietnam Sea.
In response to a question from the press asking for the Vietnamese stance on the issue, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Le Hai Binh, said on Monday that the move by China was in serious violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa.
The spokesman condemned the military exercises as going against common understandings by the two countries’ senior leaders and violating international law, including 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).
Binh affirmed Vietnam’s utmost opposition to such violations and demanded that China respect Vietnamese sovereignty, act with responsibility, and put an immediate end to actions that threaten maritime security and safety in the East Vietnam Sea or heighten tension in the waterways.