Vice President of the Vietnam Bar Federation Truong Trong Nghia has suggested Vietnam should not take up its legal struggle against China alone; instead it needs to take advantage of international support to ensure justice is on its side, according to radio The Voice of Vietnam (VOV).

Lawyer Nghia, who is a National Assembly deputy, gave the advice when being asked about the possibility of Vietnam using legal action against China’s illegal positioning of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. He granted an interview to press at the current National Assembly session.

*Is it possible to bring China to the International Arbitration Court?

It is certain that China’s claim of sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago and its unilateral deployment of the giant floating rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 is a wrongful act. The archipelago belongs to Vietnam. China’s use of force to take control of Hoang Sa is illegal and never recognised internationally.

We have sufficient legal evidence to assert our sovereignty over Hoang Sa, and call on the international community, including international jurisdiction organisations and the United Nations, to reject China’s groundless claim. We should carry on the legal struggle at international forums.

China’s unilateral move goes against the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and this is a legal basis for us to file a lawsuit against China.

*Do you think the National Assembly will issue a resolution to clarify Vietnam’s stance?

As far as I know the legislature is ready to do everything in its remit to show it is the most powerful representative body of the people. However, it is still keeping a close eye on the situation and needs more time before making any decision.

A National Assembly decision must demonstrate the people’s will and aspirations, be influential, and support ongoing efforts to demand China withdraw its oil rig from Vietnam’s waters, in order to protect the country’s sovereign right and jurisdiction.

*How long do you think the lawsuit will last?

It will certainly last a long time because it follows complex international principles and requires great expertise, both domestically and internationally. Even with a firm legal basis, we still need time to prepare ample evidence, persuasive arguments and supporting materials.

We cannot pursue this legal struggle alone, we need to follow the correct diplomatic channels in line with international law to show that justice is on our side. We also need to strengthen national defence, economic potential and national solidarity, because this is the struggle of the entire Vietnamese people.

In brief, this is a complicated situation that requires wisdom, skills and a high level of expertise, as well as experience from previous struggles.
*What will happen if Vietnam wins the lawsuit but China still violates Vietnam’s sovereignty?

If we win the case, it will be a landslide victory. If China continues its wrongful acts, it will be put at a disadvantage. Chinese people themselves will also disapprove of their leaders’ wrongful acts.

*Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos is recognised internationally. However, China, a world power and a UN Security Council permanent member, occupied territory of another country. How can you view China’s move?

In comparison with China, Vietnam is a small nation in terms of economic and defence potential. Reality shows that big countries intimidate smaller countries in defiance of international law. Vietnam is one of those countries that has fallen victim to this unfair game.

However, the enforcement of the 1982 UNCLOS is considered a victory of small coastal countries, enabling them to enjoy equal rights in disputes with bigger countries.

This requires smaller countries to unite in their struggle and gives Vietnam the chance and possibility to win this dispute. It is undeniable that progressive mankind has a huge strength.

*How will Vietnam present its stance at the coming 14th Shangri-la Dialogue? What do you expect from this conference?

I want to make sure that we have justice and the law on our side and that China’s action is illegal. We have to compile convincing arguments internationally, especially in big powers like the US, Russia, and China, and smaller countries like the Philippines and some other ASEAN countries.

Out plight for justice should be frequent and constant. Shangri-la 14 will be a good opportunity for Vietnam to present its case.

Since China placed its oil rig inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, Vietnamese leaders have expressed their views at many international forums. At the recent World Economic Forum on East Asia in Myanmar, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung reiterated Vietnam’s consistent policy of settling all disputes through peaceful means. He also said Vietnam will do everything in its power to defend its sovereignty if its sacred sovereignty is violated.-VNA