Saturday, May 17, 2014

China Urges Vietnam to Stop Disrupting Drilling Operation

Ouyang Yujing, Director-general of Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs at China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered a speech on Friday. Ouyang Yujing has long been engaged in China's border issues over his career, conducting negotiations over border management with neighbor countries such as Russia, Mongolia and Vietnam.

The nine-fold speech focuses on recent violence in Vietnam against Chinese companies. At least two Chinese national in Vietnam has been killed and more than 100 others injured amid the anti-China protests which have been taking place in several Vietnamese provinces this week.

Ouyang remarked that China-Vietnam relations have returned to the track of stable and sound growth in recent years. The current maritime situation is caused completely by Vietnam's illegal disruption of the normal operation by a Chinese company.

"The area where the Chinese company is operating is 17 nautical miles from the Zhongjian Island and 150 nautical mile from the mainland of Vietnam. The Chinese operation didn't start just this year or this month. A Chinese company had operated in these waters as early as ten years ago. And in May and June last year, a three-dimensional seismic operation and well site survey was also conducted by the Chinese company in these waters."

Since May 2, Vietnamese collisions against Chinese vessels have totaled 560 times. On May 13 alone, the Vietnamese vessels rammed Chinese government ships for 169 times, the highest single-day record since May 2.

"China has repeatedly urged Vietnam to respect China's sovereignty, sovereignty rights and jurisdiction, stop its disruptive activities and pull out of the area. However, the Vietnamese vessels have increased in number and continued to ram the Chinese vessels on the site," said Ouyang Yujing.

He reiterated that in the face of intensive disruption of the Vietnamese vessels, the Chinese side had no choice but to take necessary measures to uphold normal order of operation and safety of navigation.

In response to Vietnam repeatedly stressing the importance of respecting international law and norms, Ouyang Yujing pointed out that both China and Vietnam have ratified and joined the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf signed in 1988.

The waters between China's Xisha Islands and Vietnam's coast have yet to be delimited. So far, China and Vietnam have not delimited their exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and continental shelf in those waters. Both sides have the right to claim EEZ and continental shelf. The waters of China's operation is only 17 nautical miles from China's Zhongjian Island, but about 150 nautical miles from Vietnam's coast. Therefore, no matter which principle is applied in the delimitation, the waters in question will never become part of Vietnam's EEZ or continental shelf.

Ouyang Yujing said despite all this conflicts, China has kept in mind the larger interest of bilateral relations as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea, and has maintained communication with Vietnam.

"We believe that China and Vietnam have the ability and wisdom to properly handle the current situation through joint efforts,"he said.

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