February, 25 2021 – Việt Nam is a responsible member of the international community and always upholds provisions under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS 1982), spokesperson for the foreign ministry Lê Thị Thu Hằng said.
She made the statement on Thursday in the regular press briefing, held virtually this time due to COVID-19 in Hà Nội, when asked for Việt Nam’s reaction to the US Navy’s first freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) held under the Biden administration in February.
Destroyer USS John S. McCain reportedly conducted the FONOP near the Trường Sa (Spratly) and Hoàng Sa (Paracel) archipelagoes in the South China Sea (known as the East Sea by Việt Nam) over which Việt Nam has repeatedly claimed sovereignty, but contested by mainland China and China’s Taiwan.
“By engaging in innocent passage without giving prior notification to or asking permission from any of the claimants,” the US Navy noted in a statement.
Also regarding the recent statement by French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly that France had sent the nuclear submarine, SNA Emeraude, to patrol the South China Sea, together with the naval support ship BSAM Seine, the said spokesperson said: “As a responsible member of the international community and a signatory of the UNCLOS 1982, Việt Nam always upholds the provisions of the UNCLOS, including items related to maritime and flight activities over the sea regions set up in accordance with UNCLOS 1982.”
“The maintenance of peace, stability, security and order, safety, maritime and overflight freedom, the rule of law, with respect to sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the littoral countries in the South China Sea, in a manner that is consistent with the UNCLOS 1982, is the shared goal, interests, responsibility, and aspiration of all countries and of the international community,” Hằng said.
Việt Nam hopes that all countries would strive for “positive contribution” to the maintenance of peace and stability on the basis of international law in the South China Sea region, the Vietnamese diplomat stressed.