Vietnam hit out at China yesterday, accusing Beijing of violating its sovereignty in the latest row over disputed islands in the South China Sea.
The foreign ministry says China has recently offered oil and gas tenders for 19 lots in the South China Sea, including Lot 65/24, which lies about one nautical mile from one of the hotly disputed Paracel Islands – or Hoang Sa Islands as Vietnam calls them.
Vietnam also accused China of conducting recent live fire drills near the islands and criticized last week’s announcement from the National Administration of Tourism of China that it is looking to expand tourist activities on the archipelago.
Hainan provincial authorities also plan to organize a yacht race from Sanya to the archipelago on March 28.
“China’s actions have seriously violated Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracel archipelago and international law,” foreign ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi said yesterday.
This goes “against the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea [South China Sea] signed in 2002 between ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and China,” he added.
He called the Paracels an inseparable part of Vietnam’s territory and that China’s actions were not beneficial to the development of friendship and co-operation between the two sides.
He called on China to end all activities that violate Vietnam’s sovereignty over the archipelago and to make practical contributions to maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea.