07/14/2016, 12.28
VIETNAM - CHINA
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South China Sea: Hanoi satisfied with ruling against Beijing

by Nguyen Dinh

The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs "welcomes" the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Hanoi claims sovereignty over part of the disputed area and an exclusive economic zone. The majority of citizens in favor of territorial claims. But disputes must be resolved peacefully and according to international law.

 

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Hanoi "welcomes" Permanent Court of Arbitration (CPA) ruling on the Law of the Sea, under which Beijing "has no sovereignty" over the disputed territories in the South China Sea (or Eastern Vietnamese Sea). 

The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Lê Hải Bình, commented on the July 12 judgment by the international tribunal regarding the islands and seas at the centre of the dispute in the Asia-Pacific region.

The ruling is of strong political significance, but is not binding, so that Beijing has already announced it will not comply because it was handed down by a "failed" court; in contrast, the verdict was welcomed by the Philippines which first sought arbitration in January 2013.

In an official statement Minister Binh stressed that "Vietnam is preparing a more detailed comment" on the matter, which will be issued "at a later time." However, the Hanoi authorities confirmed their position in the context of the case, reflecting "the declarations dating to December 12,  2014, submitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the international court."

The Vietnamese authorities therefore reaffirm the declaration of "sovereignty" of part of the atolls that make up the archipelago of the Spratly and Paracels in the South China Sea, and to claim an "exclusive economic zone" in the area.

Hanoi's territorial claims are supported by the majority of the population, while authorities are pressing for a "peaceful" resolution through "diplomacy". In addition, the Vietnamese government have asked to "avoid the use of threat and force", instead favoring the rules and regulations provided for "under international law".

In the past, the Vietnamese nationalist groups and ordinary citizens have taken to the streets to protest against Beijing's  "imperialist" policy in the region's seas. The Hanoi government has repressed the demonstrations on several occasions, while countering the Chinese designs on the region and raising international protests over the disputed missile installations on the atolls.

Commenting to AsiaNews on the verdict, Prof. Pham Dinh, a Catholic historian and expert on the Spratly and Paracel islands, recalls the past Chinese attacks on Vietnamese ships and positions. In particular, the assault on January 19, 1974, which killed 65 soldiers "heroes" of the Republic of Vietnam, resulting in Chinese occupation of the Paracels. Such attacks continued in following years, recalls the professor, for example on March 14, 1988 when Chinese warships attacked Vietnamese troops.

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