Defence Minister, Gen. Phung Quang Thanh called on China to exercise maximum restraint, without the use of armed force, in the East Sea, as he talked with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on May 19.

The meeting came with both men in the capital to attend the eighth ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting, lasting from May 19-21.

Informing the media of their conversation on May 20, Thanh said the tension has persisted since China illegally installed its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou – 981 in Vietnam’s waters in early May, sparking regional concern and a wave of protests in Vietnam and around the world.

Vietnam continues to safeguarding sovereignty by peaceful means in compliance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, he said.

The country deploys only law enforcement mission ships operated by the coast guard, fisheries surveillance teams and fishermen. Thanh went on to say that he had requested the Chinese side stop using aircraft, warships and boats equipped with high-pressure water cannons, the latter having been used to damage Vietnamese ships, injuring many crewmembers.

Vietnam stands firm in safeguarding not only territorial sovereignty but peace and socio-political stability at home as well, the General declared.

As the country is willing to foster friendship with China in the spirit of comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, he proposed more discussions between senior Chinese and Vietnamese leaders so as to stabilise the situation as soon as possible.

Asked about Chang’s reaction to his suggestions, Thanh said he still insists the rig lies within China’s waters.

“I responded by saying that the rig is well within Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone already defined in the UNCLOS, and requested that China stop unilateral action and come to the table with Vietnam”.

He also demanded China withdraw the rig out of the waters immediately, so that Vietnamese fishermen in the area can continue earning their living safely.-VNA