The Chinese justification for the Haiyang Shiyou-981 rig incident is factually and legally untrustworthy, Vietnamese Ambassador to Australia Luong Thanh Nghi has affirmed.

In his article entitled “Law of the sea draws a line in the sand” run on “The Australian” on June 17, Nghi said that the deployment of the giant oil rig well inside Vietnam ’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf represents another provocative and escalating act of China in the East Sea .

“This move violates Vietnam’s legitimate sovereign rights and jurisdiction authorised by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), defies the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed between China and ASEAN in 2002, impedes freedom of navigation and destabilises peace and security,” he stressed.

Citing the UNCLOS, to which both China and Vietnam are signatories, Nghi said China ’s installation of the oil rig between 120 nautical miles and 150 nautical miles from Vietnam ’s baseline is no doubt a gross violation of Vietnam ’s rights and challenges the merit of the existing international law regime.

According to the ambassador, the Chinese account is that the installation area is in the “contiguous zone” of Hoang Sa (Paracels) archipelago controlled by China, just 17 nautical miles from Tri Ton Island . However, China failed to mention three important facts.

First, Vietnam has sufficient reliable historical evidence and a solid legal basis to ascertain its peaceful acquisition of, and continuous, effective administration over the Paracels by different Vietnamese authorities at least since the 17th century.

Second, the Paracels were taken over by force and occupied by China in 1974. Vietnam has never acquiesced to China’s unlawful occupation and has ­repeatedly asserted its sovereignty over the archipelago.

Third, a “historic right” claim does not conform to the provisions of UNCLOS.

Nghi also condemned China ’s provocative acts in the East Sea such as intentionally ramming against and firing high-pressure water cannons at Vietnam ’s civil ships. The world was stunned by footage of a Chinese vessel intentionally sinking a much smaller Vietnamese fishing boat, leaving a dozen fishermen floating at sea.

“Such lethal actions are unacceptable practices that run against the norms of modern international relations,” he affirmed.

Vietnam is committed to res­olving all disputes peacefully in line with international law, he reiterated.-VNA