A soldier on duty on the Co Lin island of the Truong Sa
island district (Photo: VNA)
In a recent interview with Vietnam News Agency,
Nguyen Manh Dong, head of the maritime affairs department at the ministry’s
National Boundary Commission, reiterated Vietnam’s consistent policy that
all international disputes, including those in the East Sea, must be
resolved by peaceful measures as regulated in the UN Charter and the UNCLOS.
This was also affirmed in the National Assembly’s resolution ratifying the
UNCLOS on June 23, 1994, the country’s 2012 Law of the Sea, as well as many
On this basis, Vietnam handled the demarcation of
and fisheries cooperation in the Gulf of Tonkin with China in 2000, maritime
demarcation with Thailand in 1997 and continental shelf demarcation with
Indonesia in 2003. It also signed an agreement on joint oil and gas
exploitation with Malaysia in 1992 and a treaty on historical waters with
Cambodia in 1988.
The country is also promoting talks on the
demarcation of the sea area off the mouth of the Gulf of Tonkin with China
and the demarcation of the exclusive economic zone with Indonesia, he said.
Dong noted Vietnam always respects neighbouring
countries’ sea areas in line with the UNCLOS. It has carried out
communications to educate its fishermen and others operating at sea to
adhere to international law and the UNCLOS and not violate foreign waters.
At the same time, it has also resolutely safeguarded
its sea areas, he said, adding that in terms of the exclusive economic zone
and the continental shelf specified in line with relevant articles of the
UNCLOS, the country has persistently and resolutely struggled to protect
them through peaceful measures like using diplomatic contacts to point out
violations under the UNCLOS’s regulations, sending diplomatic notes to show
opposition, and circulating diplomatic notes at the UN.
Vietnam has also affirmed that it reserves the right
to use peaceful measures in accordance with international law to protect its
rights and legal and legitimate interests under the UNCLOS, the official
Dong went on to say that Vietnam was one of the 107
states that signed the UNCLOS in Montego Bay, Jamaica, shortly after the
convention opened for signing in December 1982. It also participated in the
agreements relating to the implementation of this treaty.
Over the years, the Southeast Asian nation has
always respected and fulfilled all its obligations under the UNCLOS, as seen
through the adaptation of domestic laws to the UNCLOS, the continual
perfection of the national legal system on the sea and the use of the
convention’s regulations as a basis for resolving demarcation issues and
promoting maritime cooperation with neighbouring countries.
With regard to bilateral aspects, Vietnam has
conducted joint marine science research with the Philippines in 1996, 2000,
2005 and 2007. Based on these successes, the two countries have
institutionalised bilateral marine cooperation and expanded the cooperation
from marine science research to new fields like marine environmental
protection, search and rescue, and oil spill response.
In terms of the partnership in less sensitive areas
at sea with China, the two countries have successfully implemented a project
comparing the Holocene-epoch deposits in the Red River and Yangtze River
deltas, and worked together to release breeding fish and protect aquatic
resources in the Gulf of Tonkin.
They are stepping up collaboration in search and
rescue, maritime affairs, the opening of a hotline to deal with
fisheries-related incidents at sea, and implementation of some new projects
on environmental protection in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Dong said Vietnam has also set up mechanisms of
joint patrol at sea with Thailand in 1998, Cambodia in 2002 and China in
2005 to maintain order in relevant sea areas, enhancing ties between
relevant forces of Vietnam and the countries, and fostering neighbourliness.
Within the framework of ASEAN, Vietnam has also
taken part in cooperation on East Sea matters, including the ASEAN Senior
Transport Officials’ Meeting, the ASEAN Transport Search and Rescue Forum,
the ASEAN Maritime Forum, and the Sub-Committee on Marine Science and
To implement the Declaration on the Conduct of
Parties in the East Sea between ASEAN and China and negotiate a Code of
Conduct in the waters, it has proposed many initiatives and made
contributions for the sake of the parties concerned and for ASEAN-China
maritime cooperation, he noted.
Additionally, the country has engaged in activities
within the framework of international mechanisms established under the
UNCLOS, the official said, noting it has fully participated in the meetings
of the UNCLOS member states held annually at the UN General Assembly and the
meetings of the International Seabed Authority. It has also supported the
enhancement of activities of the Continental Shelf Boundary Commission and
for a stronger role of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
These facts are all vivid evidence demonstrating the
Vietnamese Government’s goodwill, activeness, resolve and commitment to
respecting and implementing the UNCLOS. They also show the country’s efforts
and consistent policy to cooperate to handle sea-related disputes and
differences by peaceful means in conformity with international law,
including the UNCLOS, thereby fostering cooperation with other countries and
protecting its rights and legitimate interests in the East Sea, Dong added.
He stressed that all countries, regardless of their
development level, size and influence, need to join efforts, on the basis of
goodwill and respect for law and through practical actions, to maintain a
favourable environment for their own sake and for the sake of the