Dr. Do Minh Cao, from the East Sea Research Centre, told the English language news website dtinews.vn that China is intent on realising its ambition to illegally occupy the “nine-dotted line” in the East Sea.

He said that Beijing may remove its illegal oil rig from Vietnam’s continental shelf, but continue enforcement of a restricted area in the East Sea.

*Many international experts predict that China's expansionist actions may continue towards Vietnam and other regional countries. What are your thoughts on this?

China has already imposed its “nine-dotted line” policy on some other regional countries. The international community is aware, and is keeping track of China's actions in this area.

China has shown that it is not reluctant to apply coercive methods to expand its area of control in the East Sea. The forceful invasion of Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago in 1974 is a prime example. Such actions have threatened regional security and breached international law.

*What do you think about the idea of creating a coalition of regional countries with the same concerns over China's intentions in the East Sea?

Similar ideas have been put forth by several foreign experts. Vietnam and ASEAN countries should set up a multilateral body to form a coherent policy to deal with China's actions in the East Sea.

*In recent days, China has been facing strong opposition from the international community. Do you think this is enough to dissuade China from pursuing an aggressive expansionist policy?

There has been much support for Vietnam in the international community. The US and a number of European countries have made official statements condemning aggressive actions by the Chinese. Some Asian countries, such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have also requested that China stop its provocations in the East Sea. But I don't expect such statements to achieve immediate results.

The setting up of the Chinese oil rig in Vietnamese waters should be seen as just part of a larger agenda by the Chinese to increase their control. The oil rig itself may not be a long-lasting venture, but we must view it in the backdrop of their ambitions in the area.

*In your opinion, what is the limit of Vietnamese patience in this matter?

First, let me say that Vietnam is a peace- loving country. With that said, there are limits to what we can peacefully endure. We have no intention of exchanging our national sovereignty for some sort of dependent friendship. If China decides to drive us up against the wall, we will defend ourselves.

Even though Vietnam is a small country, we have never yielded to unjust or illegal pressures from any country, no matter how big they are. When the country is in danger, what we have is a national solidarity that is quite strong. We have the national strength to protect our sovereignty.-VNA