China’s illegal dispatch of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou – 981 in Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone has come under fire worldwide again, with Vietnamese in Cuba and Spain recently raising their voice of protest.

Taking centre stage at a meeting on May 29, Chairman of the Vietnamese Association in Cuba, Mai Thao, condemned China’s move as a serious violation of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), its Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea with ASEAN, in defiance of the basic principles guiding the settlement of sea issues between the two nations.

China must stop harrassing and ramming into Vietnamese law enforcement ships, then pull its rig and vessels out of Vietnam’s waters without delay, he said, adding that the Vietnamese government’s sound response to the incident has won plaudits from compatriots in Cuba.

On behalf of Vietnamese students in Cuba, student Le Anh Thu asserted that Vietnam is a peace-loving nation that will always stand ready to befriend countries all over the world, yet will fight unyieldingly for its irreplaceable peace and sovereignty.

On the occasion, they launched a fundraising drive in support of the Vietnamese coast guard and fishermen at home, who have borne the full brunt of the ongoing dispute, physically and mentally.

At the Vietnamese embassy earlier, Ambassador Duong Minh disclosed historical evidence and the legal basis proving that Vietnam has peacefully exercised its sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos in the East Sea since at least the 17 th century.

It is therefore impossible to declare that China’s occupation of Hoang Sa in 1974 and several Truong Sa islets in 1988 by armed force is a ground to claim sovereignty over it.

Meanwhile in Spain, nearly 50 Vietnamese students and residents gathered at Cataluna square at the heart of Barcelona, in opposition to China’s violation of sovereignty, sovereign right and jurisdiction of Vietnam.

They put their signatures on a letter sent to the Chinese embassy in Madrid and Chinese Consulate General in Barcelona, in which they asked China to end its illegal presence in Vietnam’s waters and respect international law, especially the UNCLOS.

At the beginning of May, China illegally dispatched the rig, as well as a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft, to Vietnam’s waters and positioned the rig at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude. The location is 80 miles deep inside Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

On May 27, China moved the rig to 15 degrees 33 minutes 22 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 36 seconds east longitude. The new location is 25 nautical miles from Tri Ton Island in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa archipelago and 23 nautical miles east-northeast from the old location, still completely within Vietnam’s continental shelf. With the move, China has kept on violating Vietnam’s sovereign right and jurisdiction.

Vietnam has exercised the utmost restraint, shown every gesture of goodwill and exhausted all dialogue channels to communicate with Chinese authorities of different levels in order to express protest and demand China immediately withdraw its rig and armed and military vessels from Vietnam’s waters.

Nevertheless, up to now, China has failed to respond to Vietnam’s legitimate demand. On the contrary, it has been slandering and blaming Vietnam while continuing to escalate the use of force and acts of violation in an increasingly dangerous and serious manner.

China’s armed vessels have aggressively fired high-power water cannons at and intentionally rammed against Vietnamese public-service and civil ships, causing damage to many boats and injuring many people on board.

Chinese ships have continuously encircled, constrained and driven away Vietnamese fishing boats and even injured Vietnamese fishermen, threatening their lives.

On May 26, Chinese ship 11209 sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel which was operating normally in its traditional fishing ground near Hoang Sa archipelago.-VNA