Nearly 1,000 Vietnamese people in Laos gathered at a meeting in the capital Vientiane on May 14 to reprimand China for positioning an oil rig in Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

Ambassador Nguyen Manh Hung said China’s placement of the Haiyang Shiyou-981 rig and deployment of many armed vessels in Vietnam’s waters from early May is particularly serious and dangerous.

He stressed that China’s move violates Vietnam’s waters and runs counter to bilateral agreements between the two countries on solving sea issues by peaceful measures in line with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which China itself is a signatory.

The act also seriously infringes the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea agreed between ASEAN countries and China in 2002, and directly jeopardises peace, stability, security and maritime safety in the East Sea, Hung added.

He also underlined Vietnam’s wish to settle disputes with neighbouring countries in a peaceful manner.

The diplomat cited Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s speech at the ASEAN Summit-24 in Myanmar on May 11, in which he said that Vietnam always attaches special importance to maintaining and strengthening its friendly relations with China.

However, national territory is sacred, and Vietnam vehemently denounces acts of infringement and will resolutely protect its national sovereignty and legitimate interests in conformity with international law, the speech read.

At the meeting, representatives of the Vietnamese people in Laos expressed their deep concern over the current East Sea situation and protested China’s act.

They also hoped the Party and State of Vietnam will take many measures safeguarding the country’s sovereignty.

On May 2, China stationed the rig at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude. The location is 80 nautical miles deep inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and 119 nautical miles from Vietnam’s Ly Son Island.

China has deployed 86 ships of various kinds to the area. They include military, coast guard, marine surveillance, marine patrol and fisheries ships backed by rescue, transport, fuel and fishing ships.-VNA