The Vietnamese government will assist European investors in every possible way, a senior official has stated, amidst fears that the ongoing tension in the East Sea will exert negative influence on bilateral trade.

The tension erupted when China illegally installed its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou – 981 and a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft, in Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone in early May, raising regional and global alarm.

Ever since, Chinese ships have continuously encircled, constrained and driven away Vietnamese fishing boats and even injured fishermen on board, threatening their lives, Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son told attendees at a workshop in Brussels on June 3.

He thanked the world community for speaking out against China, whose unilateral act has seriously violated the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, to which it is a signatory.

The Vietnamese government and people insist on peaceful means to settle the dispute, he said, voicing his hope that Vietnam and the EU will reach a free trade agreement soon to facilitate their trade activity.

Parliamentarian Marc Tarabella, in charge of ASEAN affairs at the EU Parliament, made it clear that the EU will provide a voice of mediation in this issue, helping parties concerned reach consensus via talks.

Delegates also gained a wider insight into the ongoing developments in the East Sea area, including the different legal aspects involved.

Speaking to a Vietnam News Agency reporter, Chairman of the Belgium – Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Huynh Trang Long warned that if the tension continues, not only Southeast Asia will suffer, but many other parts of the world as well.

As of June 3, the rig remained at 15 degrees 33 minutes 36 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 11 seconds east longitude. The location is 25 nautical miles from Tri Ton island in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa archipelago, completely within Vietnam’s continental shelf.

A Chinese ship on May 26 even sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel with 10 fishermen on board within Vietnam’s waters. The fishermen were rescued.-VNA