Associations for friendship with Vietnam from various European countries have issued a joint statement condemning China ’s illegal acts in the East Sea.

The statement was the common voice of friendship associations of France, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Denmark, the Galicia Association of Spain, the Swedish Committee for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and the Italian Institute for Vietnam Studies.

It stated that on May 2, with the escort of about 50 ships, China’s rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 was positioned at an area near Tri Ton island in Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago in the East Sea , causing many tense clashes, with a Vietnamese ship sunken and many Vietnamese sailors injured.

The area, belonging to oil and gas Lot 143, was entirely inside the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam , read the statement.

The associations expressed deep concern about escalating tension caused by China, while affirming that territorial disputes in Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago cannot be settled by aggressive acts or force or unilateral move to impose a fait accompli.

The statement also underscored that international law must be upheld, and it is necessary to count on historical evidence in solving border disputes.

It highlighted the significance of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which both Vietnam and China are signatories, in dealing with sea sovereignty. According to the convention, China obviously infringed international law by putting pressure on its neighbours to achieve its ambition, which is totally unacceptable, said the statement.

It also pointed out that China ’s illegal move has harmed its relations with ASEAN countries, as it broke the agreements that China signed with the bloc, including the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) inked in 2002.

The statement also called on China to remove its rig and all escort ships from Vietnam ’s waters at once.

It also asked China to stop all violent acts and implement all commitments it made when signing the DOC, to pave the way for cooperation and settlement of the dispute in conformity with international law.

At the beginning of May 2014, 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, 80 miles deep into Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

Despite Vietnam ’s protest, China expanded its scale of operation and moved the rig to 15 degrees 33 minutes 36 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 11 seconds east longitude, 60 nautical miles deep inside Vietnam ’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

China ’s armed vessels have aggressively and consistently 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.

On May 26, Chinese ships even sank a fishing boat belonging to Da Nang fishermen operating in the traditional fishing grounds near Vietnam’s Hoang Sa archipelago.-VNA