A former Vietnamese official has denounced China’s claim that its dispatch of an oil rig to the East Sea is a ‘normal activity’, citing expert analysts who argue that the move has triggered a new crisis and a soft invasion of the area.

In his article, former head of the National Boundary Commission Tran Cong Truc made it clear that the location of the rig is well within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

China chose this sensitive area to maintain its groundless sovereignty claim over the so-called Xisha Island by intentionally interpreting the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in an incorrect way, he said. The act is part of China’s efforts to materialise its self-proclaimed and unreasonable “nine-dot” territorial claim in the waters, Truc explained.

At the same time, it schemes to create overlapping waters and turn undisputed areas into disputed ones, making it easier to take advantage of the idea of setting aside disputes and pursuing joint development, Truc claimed.

He recalled the year 1974 when China used its armed forces to grab Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, over which it has insisted of having historic sovereignty.

In response, Vietnam has asserted that it is the only State in the history to have occupied and exercised sovereignty over this archipelago at least since the 17th century. It has demonstrated this sovereignty obviously, continuously and peacefully and in conformity with international law concerning the settlement of territorial disputes among nations. Vietnam has full historical legal grounds to prove and safeguard its sovereignty over the island.

Truc called on other countries to add their voices against Chinese aggression if they want to keep this “giant octopus” from deeply penetrating into the waters, sucking dry natural resources and breaking off the livelihoods of regional countries.

And at the same time, Vietnam needs to make a strong and effective diplomatic move in line with its strong policies with nations in the region and the world over, Truc said. He suggested the engagement of international jurisdiction agencies which address disputes regarding the UNCLOS implementation.

It is time for Vietnam to consider taking legal proceedings against China to the UN’s International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in line with mechanisms provided in the UNCLOS, he stated, adding that neighbour countries can sustainably bolster their friendship this way.-VNA