Vietnam has announced its stance and view on the East Sea lawsuit instigated by the Philippines, proposing the Arbitral Tribunal pay attention to its legitimate rights and interests.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) spokesman Le Hai Binh answered media questions on December 11 regarding Vietnam’s response to China’s position paper issued on December 7 relating to the East Sea lawsuit instigated by the Philippines going to international arbitration. “To protect her legitimate rights and interests, which would be affected by the East Sea arbitration lawsuit, Vietnam has proposed the Arbitral Tribunal pay attention to her stance on legal rights and interests,” said Mr. Binh.
He stressed that Vietnam claims to have sufficient legal grounds and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos and other legal rights and benefits in the East Sea. Vietnam maintains its consistent stance in objecting to China’s claims over the archipelagos and adjacent waters and its “historical rights” to the water area, the seabed and the soil within China’s “nine-dash line” claim.
Commenting on China’s decision to release a position paper on its dispute with the Philippines, renowned Australian Professor Carl Thayer told VET that it clearly indicates that China has put itself above international law. “China continues to claim ‘indisputable sovereignty’ over all islands, rocks, and other features and their adjacent waters within its nine-dash line claim to the East Sea,” Professor Thayer told VET. “China dismisses any legal basis for challenging its sovereignty claims. At the same time it insists on bilateral negotiations to resolve disputes and uses its greater power to compel smaller powers to comply with its demands.”
Regarding Mr. Binh’s statement, Professor Thayer said that by expressing its interest in the case Vietnam is not joining the Philippines in taking legal action against China. “But Vietnam’s statement of interest will be noted by the arbitrators of the China-Philippines case,” he said. “This will have the effect of raising - however slightly - the importance of this case.” In other words, he went on, although the case is a bilateral matter the judgment of the arbitrators must take into account the interests of other parties likely to be affected by the outcome. It may be likely that by filing a statement of interest that the Arbitral Tribunal could invite Vietnam to make a presentation of its rights and interests.