July 2, 2020 – Việt Nam has issued a note to China to protest an illegal military drill conducted on islands that rightfully belong to Việt Nam.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng informed the media of the action on Thursday during a press briefing held in Hà Nội.
“Việt Nam has had exchanges with the Chinese side and has issued a diplomatic note protesting the move and requesting China do not repeat this action in the future,” Hằng said.
The military drill is reportedly being held from July 1-5 around Việt Nam’s Hoàng Sa (Paracel Islands) in the South China Sea (known as East Sea in Việt Nam), a large part of the island chain China seized control of illegally by force from Việt Nam in the 1970s.
“The drill constitutes a serious violation of Việt Nam’s sovereignty, complicated the situation, impaired the ongoing negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea between ASEAN and China, and undermined the maintenance of peace, security and co-operation in the East Sea,” the Vietnamese diplomat said.
Previously, China also announced the establishment of administrative districts in the East Sea to govern over both Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa (Spratly) islands, which also met with a rebuke from Việt Nam.
Responding to reports of the recent entry of China’s survey ship Hai Yang 4 into Việt Nam’s exclusive economic zone, Hằng stressed all surveying and exploration activities must be conducted with the approval of Việt Nam, in line with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The spokesperson also said that during July 1’s online consultation between Chinese and ASEAN senior officials, the two sides committed to resuming talks on the COC, which had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as soon as conditions allow.