PM Nguyen Tan Dung has told the NA that Vietnam's position on the East is one of cooperation, not compromise.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, in his address to the National Assembly (NA) on November 19, stressed that Vietnam will continue to cooperate with China but will not compromise its sovereignty and national security interests. Many believe the PM’s words have confirmed Vietnam policy towards China.
The PM emphasized that Vietnam and China are neighbors and will be so despite problems in their relations. “China is our neighbor. We will continue to be neighbors, whatever the weather,” responded the PM to a question about Vietnam policy towards China following the withdrawal a massive Chinese oil rig from Vietnamese waters in July. “Therefore, we always look forward to Vietnam and China’s sincere cooperation to preserve peace, stability and development for the mutual benefit of both countries.”
In answering a question about Vietnam’s response to China’s construction activities on Da Chu Thap Island (Fiery Cross Reef) and Gac Ma Island (Johnson South Reef), which are parts of Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago, PM Dung said that people recognize that China used force to occupy Gac Ma and other islands in the Truong Sa archipelago in 1988.
Despite China becoming party to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) with Vietnam and the rest of ASEAN in 2002 it has violated the agreement through its large-scale efforts to build on contested regions of the Truong Sa archipelago.
Under the DOC, all parties must avoid complicating the situation in the East Sea. But China has already begun turning Da Chu Thap Island into the largest in the Truong Sa archipelago by reclaiming an area of roughly 49 hectares with sand.
“We protest this act, as it violates the DOC to which China is a signatory,” the PM said, adding that Vietnam will seek cooperation from its neighbor to settle their disagreements on sovereignty over seas and islands based on international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues between the two countries.