CHINA'S ILLEGAL PLACEMENT OF HAIYANG SHIYOU 981 OIL RIG IN THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE AND CONTINENTAL SHELF OF VIET NAM
The Socialist Republic of Viet Nam rejects as completely unfounded, in fact and in law, China’s assertions in the annexes to the letters dated 22 May 2014 and 09 June 2014 from the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations as contained in documents A/68/887 and A/68/907 respectively. Viet Nam reiterates the following:
1. China’s activities, in violation of international law, escalate tension in the East Sea (South China Sea)
It is first of all necessary to state that the sovereignty dispute over the Hoang Sa archipelago has long existed. Yet, this dispute is not the cause of the on-going escalating tension in the East Sea, which is to be addressed by applying the rules and procedures provided for in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The current tension is caused by China's illegal placement of Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig within the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Viet Nam, over which Viet Nam is entitled to the rights of a coastal State in accordance with UNCLOS.
On 02 May 2014, China moved the Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig into the East Sea to conduct exploratory drilling and placed it at 15-29.58N/111-12.06E. On 27 May 2014, the rig was moved to the location of 15-33.38N/111-34.62E. Both of these locations lie deep inside the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Viet Nam, approximately 130-150 nautical miles off the Vietnamese coast. China’s activities infringe upon Viet Nam’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction under UNCLOS and violate the high-level agreements between the two countries on non-aggravation and non-complication of the situation in the East Sea.
Viet Nam has consistently and resolutely protested against China’s activities that violate Viet Nam’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. Since 2005, Chinese ships, on a number of occasions, have intruded into the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Viet Nam and conducted 2D and 3D seismic surveys in areas near the current locations of Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig. In response to such intrusions, Viet Nam has sent civilian law enforcement vessels to the area in order to give warning to and to demand those Chinese ships to stop their illegal activities. At the same time, through the diplomatic channel, Viet Nam has engaged in repeated communications with and sent Notes Verbales to China, resolutely protesting against China’s wrongful acts, including a series of communications between Viet Nam’s Deputy Foreign Ministers and China’s Ambassadors in Ha Noi. On 5 August 2010 and 8 August 2011, the Spokesperson of Viet Nam Ministry of Foreign Affairs publicly protested and requested China to immediately cease and to desist from repeating the violations of Viet Nam’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the East Sea. Since 2 May 2014, Viet Nam has sent Notes Verbales and communicated with the Chinese authorities at various levels more than 30 times to protest against China’s deploying of the oil rig and dispatching of escort vessels inside Viet Nam's maritime zones, acts which infringe on Viet Nam’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction. In these communications, Viet Nam has time and again demanded that China withdraw its oil rig and vessels from Vietnamese waters.
To abet the illegal operation of Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig, China has deployed over 100 escort vessels, including military ships, in Viet Nam's maritime zones. China's coast guard ships have intentionally rammed Viet Nam's civilian law enforcement vessels. Numerous videos and photographs taken by international reporters on the scene at the invitation of Viet Nam vividly demonstrate China’s violent and aggressive conduct, such as ramming into and firing water-cannon at Vietnamese vessels, causing injuries to dozens of officers and damages to vessels of Viet Nam’s civilian law enforcement agencies, and on 26 May 2014 ramming and sinking one Vietnamese fishing boat in total disregard for the safety and life of Vietnamese fishermen. These activities by China have not only violated the prohibition against the threat or use of force under international law but also constituted inhumane conduct against fellow seafarers.
2. Viet Nam’s efforts and goodwill to settle the current tension through dialogue and other peaceful means have been repeatedly rejected by China
Since the very beginning of the current tension in early May 2014, Viet Nam has made every effort to communicate and conduct dialogue with China under various forms and at various levels to demand that China immediately stop all infringements of Viet Nam’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction and withdraw its oil rig and vessels from Vietnam’s maritime zones with a view to creating favorable conditions for a prompt opening of discussions between the two countries on measures to stabilize the situation and to manage maritime issues between the two countries, pursuant to the United Nations Charter, the relevant provisions of UNCLOS, the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and other agreements between the two countries. Viet Nam has made more than 30 diplomatic communications with relevant Chinese authorities, the latest being the meeting between Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Viet Nam, H.E. Mr. Pham Binh Minh, and State Councilor of China, H.E. Mr. Yang Jiechi, in Ha Noi on 18 June 2014. But China, to date, has consistently refused to withdraw Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig; nor has it entered into substantive negotiations on the legality of China’s actions.
China must respect Viet Nam’s rights as enshrined under UNCLOS. Once again, Viet Nam demands that China comply with international law and, to this end, immediately stop all infringements of Viet Nam’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction. In particular, Viet Nam demands that China withdraw Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig, all ships and other related vehicles and equipment from Viet Nam’s waters and desist from intruding in Viet Nam’s waters in the future. Viet Nam solemnly requests China to resolve all disputes through peaceful means in conformity with international law, including UNCLOS, to avoid the prolongation of tension, and to refrain from actions that may trigger conflicts between the two countries./.