The Austrian National Library holds materials proving Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, a scholar from the University of Vienna’s Institute for East Asian Studies confirmed at a workshop in the city on June 15.

The event came with China increasing its assertiveness over the East Sea with the illegal placement of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou – 981 in Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone in early May.

Besides the legal basis enshrined in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to which Vietnam and China belong, Vietnam’s sovereignty over the islands has been traced back to the 1460 – 1497 period under the reign of King Le Thanh Tong, when it began commercial activities in the area. This was also reconfirmed by France in 1884, said Dr. Afred Gersti.

In his 45-minute report, Gersti made it clear that China’s self-claimed nine-dot line is far from its actual legal exclusive economic zone, under the terms of UNCLOS.

He presented a full analysis of the rig’s location, and actions taken by East Sea claimants such as Vietnam, China, the Philippines and stakeholders like the US, Japan, India and Russia. He lauded Vietnam for its wise response to the incident so far.

Beyond that, ASEAN’s role in settling the East Sea tension and the regional impact of the forthcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership deal were also discussed.

A majority of attendants expressed hope for a peaceful solution to the tension.

Since early May, China has illegally operated the rig and a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft in Vietnam’s waters.

Despite Vietnam’s protests, China has expanded its scale of operation and moved the rig to 15 degrees 33 minutes 36 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 11 seconds east longitude, which is 60 nautical miles deep inside Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

As of June 15, China kept over 120 ships of all kinds around the rig, including 36-40 coast guard vessels, over 30-32 cargo liners and tugboats, six military ships and 45-50 fishing vessels. A Chinese military aircraft has also been flying over and around the rig at a height of 500-700m.-VNA