A soldier on duty on the Co Lin island of the Truong Sa island district (Photo: VNA)


In a recent interview with Vietnam News Agency,Nguyen Manh Dong, head of the maritime affairs department at the ministry’sNational Boundary Commission, reiterated Vietnam’s consistent policy that allinternational disputes, including those in the East Sea, must be resolved bypeaceful measures as regulated in the UN Charter and the UNCLOS. This was alsoaffirmed in the National Assembly’s resolution ratifying the UNCLOS on June 23,1994, the country’s 2012 Law of the Sea, as well as many legal documents.

On this basis, Vietnam handled the demarcationof and fisheries cooperation in the Gulf of Tonkin with China in 2000, maritimedemarcation with Thailand in 1997 and continental shelf demarcation withIndonesia in 2003. It also signed an agreement on joint oil and gasexploitation with Malaysia in 1992 and a treaty on historical waters withCambodia in 1988.

The country is also promoting talks on thedemarcation of the sea area off the mouth of the Gulf of Tonkin with China andthe demarcation of the exclusive economic zone with Indonesia, he said.

Dong noted Vietnam always respects neighbouringcountries’ sea areas in line with the UNCLOS. It has carried out communicationsto educate its fishermen and others operating at sea to adhere to internationallaw and the UNCLOS and not violate foreign waters.

At the same time, it has also resolutelysafeguarded its sea areas, he said, adding that in terms of the exclusiveeconomic zone and the continental shelf specified in line with relevantarticles of the UNCLOS, the country has persistently and resolutely struggledto protect them through peaceful measures like using diplomatic contacts topoint out violations under the UNCLOS’s regulations, sending diplomatic notesto show opposition, and circulating diplomatic notes at the UN.

Vietnam has also affirmed that it reserves theright to use peaceful measures in accordance with international law to protectits rights and legal and legitimate interests under the UNCLOS, the officialsaid.

Dong went on to say that Vietnam was one of the107 states that signed the UNCLOS in Montego Bay, Jamaica, shortly after the conventionopened for signing in December 1982. It also participated in the agreementsrelating to the implementation of this treaty.

Over the years, the Southeast Asian nation hasalways respected and fulfilled all its obligations under the UNCLOS, as seenthrough the adaptation of domestic laws to the UNCLOS, the continual perfectionof the national legal system on the sea and the use of the convention’sregulations as a basis for resolving demarcation issues and promoting maritimecooperation with neighbouring countries.

With regard to bilateral aspects, Vietnam hasconducted joint marine science research with the Philippines in 1996, 2000,2005 and 2007. Based on these successes, the two countries haveinstitutionalised bilateral marine cooperation and expanded the cooperationfrom marine science research to new fields like marine environmentalprotection, search and rescue, and oil spill response.

In terms of the partnership in less sensitiveareas at sea with China, the two countries have successfully implemented aproject comparing the Holocene-epoch deposits in the Red River and YangtzeRiver deltas, and worked together to release breeding fish and protect aquaticresources in the Gulf of Tonkin.

They are stepping up collaboration in search andrescue, maritime affairs, the opening of a hotline to deal withfisheries-related incidents at sea, and implementation of some new projects onenvironmental protection in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Dong said Vietnam has also set up mechanisms ofjoint patrol at sea with Thailand in 1998, Cambodia in 2002 and China in 2005to maintain order in relevant sea areas, enhancing ties between relevant forcesof Vietnam and the countries, and fostering neighbourliness.

Within the framework of ASEAN, Vietnam has alsotaken part in cooperation on East Sea matters, including the ASEAN SeniorTransport Officials’ Meeting, the ASEAN Transport Search and Rescue Forum, theASEAN Maritime Forum, and the Sub-Committee on Marine Science and Technology.

To implement the Declaration on the Conduct ofParties in the East Sea between ASEAN and China and negotiate a Code of Conductin the waters, it has proposed many initiatives and made contributions for thesake of the parties concerned and for ASEAN-China maritime cooperation, henoted.

Additionally, the country has engaged in activitieswithin the framework of international mechanisms established under the UNCLOS,the official said, noting it has fully participated in the meetings of theUNCLOS member states held annually at the UN General Assembly and the meetingsof the International Seabed Authority. It has also supported the enhancement ofactivities of the Continental Shelf Boundary Commission and for a stronger roleof the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

These facts are all vivid evidence demonstratingthe Vietnamese Government’s goodwill, activeness, resolve and commitment torespecting and implementing the UNCLOS. They also show the country’s effortsand consistent policy to cooperate to handle sea-related disputes anddifferences by peaceful means in conformity with international law, includingthe UNCLOS, thereby fostering cooperation with other countries and protectingits rights and legitimate interests in the East Sea, Dong added.

He stressed that all countries, regardless oftheir development level, size and influence, need to join efforts, on the basisof goodwill and respect for law and through practical actions, to maintain a favourable environment for their own sake and for the sakeof the international community.-VNA