Vietnam has been closely monitoring the situation in the East Vietnam Sea and demands that all nations comply with international law, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated following reports of the return of a Chinese ship to the Southeast Asian country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Chinese vessel Haiyang Dizhi 8, which is used for offshore seismic surveys, was spotted 158 kilometers off Vietnam’s coast, within the country’s EEZ.
The ship was escorted by at least one China Coast Guard vessel, Reuters quoted data from Marine Traffic, a website that tracks shipping, as indicating.
Responding to the media report, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on Tuesday evening that Vietnamese authorities have been closely monitoring the situation in the East Vietnam Sea.
“Vietnam demands that all nations comply with provisions in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and international law in order to contribute to the maintenance of peace, stability, and cooperation in the East [Vietnam] Sea,” the foreign ministry remarked.
The Haiyang Dizhi 8 first entered Vietnam's EEZ in the southern area of the East Vietnam Sea in July 2019 and appeared to be conducting a seismic survey.
The ship left the area on August 7 and returned one week later under the escort of Chinese coast guard vessels.
The Chinese fleet entered the area for the third time on September 7 and illegally operated there until September 27.
On October 3, the Vietnamese foreign ministry’s spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang announced that the group of ships had “expanded their operation range” within Vietnam’s EEZ and Continental Shelf.
They exited the maritime area in late October 2019.
Hanoi has persistently made clear that the waters that the Haiyang Dizhi 8 and its escorts operated in lie “entirely within the sovereignty and jurisdiction of Vietnam,” and resolutely voiced its opposition to the illegal actions on multiple occasions.
On April 2, a Vietnamese fishing boat was sunk by a Chinese coast guard vessel near Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago. All of the fishermen on board were eventually rescued.
Following the incident, Vietnam’s foreign ministry requested China to investigate, clarify, and strictly handle the civil servants and Chinese vessel responsible for the incident, demanding that similar actions not be repeated and adequate compensation be paid to the Vietnamese fishermen.
The U.S. Department of State has said that the incident was part of a long string of China’s actions to assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbors in the East Vietnam Sea.