The Vietnamese Embassy in China is continuing to demand the country unconditionally return a seized Vietnamese fishing vessel, said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Le Hai Binh at a regular press conference on June 25.

He said according to the embassy, the China Coast Guard informed the office on June 19 that it seized 17 fishermen and two fishing ships from central Quang Binh province, QB93694TS and QB93480TS.

The Vietnamese Embassy visited the detained citizens, worked closely with local agencies and requested China immediately free the vessels and fishermen.

According to latest information from relevant agencies, the 17 fishermen and boat QB93480TS have arrived back in Vietnam safely, Binh said, adding that the embassy is continuing to demand China return QB93694TS unconditionally.

Regarding China’s alleged forcing of the fishermen to sign documents recognising China’s sovereignty in the East Sea, the Foreign Ministry ordered the Vietnamese Embassy to clarify the information to determine the appropriate response, he noted.

At the press conference, reporters questioned a recent statement of Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang that China’s island construction and reclamation in the East Sea are within the scope of the country’s sovereignty.

Binh said China’s large-scale construction and expansion of islands and reefs in Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago is illegal and cannot change the fact that Vietnam has sufficient legal foundation and historical evidence proving its sovereignty over this chain of islands.

Vietnam requests China immediately halt these activities, respect Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagos, comply seriously with international law – especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea – and not take any actions to complicate the situation and the status quo in the waters, the spokesman stressed.

Meanwhile, the Chinese newspaper People’s Daily ran an article saying in case of emergency, China will convert all civilian maritime ships for military use.

Responding to this issue, Binh underlined that Vietnam hopes as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and an important player in the region, China will make responsible and constructive contributions to maintaining regional and international peace and stability.-VNA