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US award for detained Vietnamese blogger ‘not objective’: foreign ministry

Friday, March 31, 2017, 10:56 GMT+7

Vietnam’s policy of promoting women’s rights has been consistent, stressed Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Hai Binh on Thursday while fielding a question regarding the U.S.’s honoring of an anti-state Vietnamese blogger.

At its regular press briefing on Thursday, the Vietnamese ministry responded to questions regarding the U.S. State Department’s announcement of Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh as a 2017 recipient of the International Women of Courage Award.

“Vietnam’s consistent policy has always been to protect and promote people’s fundamental rights, including women’s rights,” Binh said, adding that the country’s efforts and achievements in ensuring and improving human rights are highly regarded by the international community.

The U.S. State Department’s presentation of the award to a person currently in custody for an investigation into their legal violations is a move that is neither objective nor suitable, and does not benefit the development of bilateral relations, Binh stressed.

Quynh, 37, better known by her Facebook alias ‘Me Nam’ (Mother Mushroom), was arrested last October on charges of “spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” after authorities discovered she had been using multiple Facebook accounts since 2012 to draft, post, and share articles and videos criticizing the policies of the Party and the State, as well as besmirching several political figures.

Fielding questions covering other topics, Binh reiterated that Vietnam’s response to reports that China is nearly completed installing large military outposts on illegal man-made islands in Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago is that all parties involved in Truong Sa and Hoang Sa (Paracels) should respect Vietnam’s sovereignty in the area and act responsibly.

The reports are still being verified by relevant Vietnamese agencies, Binh said, reiterating that Vietnam has full legal foundation and historical evidence to affirm its sovereignty over Truong Sa and Hoang Sa.

All parties involved in the matter must respect Vietnam’s sovereignty, act responsibly, and refrain from actions that might complicate the situation or threaten peace, stability, and maritime security and safety in the East Vietnam Sea, the spokesperson elaborated.

Binh also stressed Vietnam’s resolute objection against Taiwan’s live-fire military drill in waters around Ba Binh Island in Vietnam’s Truong Sa archipelago and demanded that Taiwan refrain from future military activity in that area.

The move “seriously violates Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Truong Sa archipelago,” Binh said.

“It also threatens peace, stability and maritime safety and security in the East Vietnam Sea, while elevating tensions and complicating the situation in the waters.”

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