China’s placement of a drilling rig in Vietnam’s continental shelf has irritated the Vietnamese people and damaged the mutual trust that the two sides have worked hard for, according to Bui Hong Phuc, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam-China Friendship Association.

Phuc, a former ambassador to China during the 1997-2002 period, said he found China ’s move incomprehensible as it has recently announced a new external policy of being a good neighbour to surrounding countries.

However, the deployment of its oil rig in the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam has failed to match the spirit of the policy, surprising those who wish to make the friendship between the two countries better, he said.

China ’s act has gone against what leaders of both countries agreed during meetings of the two presidents last June and the two premiers last October, said Phuc. They agreed to work together to maintain peace and stability in the East Sea , and not to conduct moves that complicate and expand disputes, he noted.

Phuc stated that China ’s move is contrary to the agreement on the basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues that Vietnam and China signed in 2011, which underscored the wish to make the East Sea a sea of peace, friendship, cooperation and development.

The former ambassador cited an article posted on May 6 in China ’s Global Times stating that China should “teach Vietnam a lesson”. This hurt the Vietnamese people, he said.

Those who hold that view have no understanding of Vietnam ’s revolutionary history, including the Dien Bien Phu victory that has just celebrated its 60 th anniversary, he explained.

Chinese people have failed to access sources of accurate and full information of Vietnam and the relations of the two countries. Therefore, it is necessary to help them gain a better understanding of the real situation in the East Sea , the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagoes and the so called “Nine-dotted line” that China claims, Phuc stressed.

Many Chinese people lack basic knowledge about the issue, he continued, reiterating that he used to meet and explain to many Chinese friends, including businessmen, war veterans and civilians, about the real situation surrounding Hoang Sa, Truong Sa and the “Nine-dotted line”. After understanding the situation, they all agreed that China ’s actions are unacceptable, he said.

Regarding a solution to the issue, Phuc said it is important that that the two sides should sit together for peaceful dialogues. Vietnam cannot accept China continuing to escalate the tension.

China has gone against international opinion and law, arguing that the deployment of its oil rig in Vietnam ’s continental shelf is protecting its national sovereignty based on the so called “Nine-dotted line”. Despite even many experts within China rejecting this, the country has stubbornly insisted on the claim. Therefore, the struggles to preserve Vietnam ’s sovereignty must be continued, he said.

Phuc noted that as soon as the case occurred, the Vietnam-China Friendship Association sent a letter to the China-Vietnam Friendship Association of China, raising concern over China ’s move and demanding the country immediately remove the drilling rig from Vietnam ’s exclusive economic zone.

The association also suggested that the two sides sit down for negotiations in the hope of peacefully settling the issue in accordance with the legitimate aspirations of peoples of both sides, he said.

The East Sea issue is also likely to be discussed at the sixth Vietnam-China people’s forum planned for later this year, Phuc revealed, adding that proposals will be given to leaders of both countries to ease tensions and minimise negative impacts.-VNA