The Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 and its escorts have violated Vietnam’s sovereignty and have thus been criticized by the U.S., but Geng Shuang, spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has considered it “slander.”
Responding to criticisms leveled by the U.S. at recent developments in the East Vietnam Sea, Geng said, "This is slander against Chinese and Southeast Asian countries’ efforts to uphold peace and stability in the [East Vietnam Sea] and properly manage differences.”
“Countries and people in the region will not believe their words,” Reuters quoted Geng as saying at a press conference in Beijing on July 23, deeming previous remarks by U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as baseless.
Geng went on to accuse the U.S. and external forces of causing trouble in the waterway, urging “the United States to stop such irresponsible behavior and respect the efforts of China and ASEAN countries to resolve differences through dialogue and work for peace and stability in the [East Vietnam Sea].”
Earlier, the U.S. had repeatedly condemned the Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 and its escorts for infringing upon Vietnam’s sovereignty.
Bolton fired the first bullet on July 20: “Respect for sovereignty & freedom of navigation are fundamental to the Indo-Pacific vision shared by U.S. & Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). China’s coercive behavior towards its Southeast Asian neighbors is counterproductive & threatens regional peace & stability.”
The U.S. Department of State also demanded the same day that China “cease its bullying behavior and refrain from engaging in this type of provocative and destabilizing activity.
“China’s repeated provocative actions aimed at the offshore oil and gas development of other claimant states threaten regional energy security and undermine the free and open Indo-Pacific energy market.”
Just defer commenting on the slander Geng directed at the U.S., his statement on July 17 asking “the Vietnamese side [to] earnestly respect China's sovereign rights and jurisdiction” over the areas that are Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf in the southern part of the East Vietnam Sea, as recognized by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, was a gross slander and flagrant breach of international law.
Therefore, Geng Shuang is obviously an unreliable person. Who would believe his slander against the U.S.?
* This is the translation of a Vietnamese article under the byline of Chi Lan, published in the Tuoi Tre (Youth) Daily on July 23, 2019.