HANOI, May 16. /ITAR-TASS/. Vietnam insists that China stops offshore oil exploration in the South China Sea within Vietnam’s territorial waters, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the phone on Thursday.
The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry said on Friday the Minister had criticized Beijing’s installation of the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 in early May near the Paracel Islands, which the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea defines as part of Vietnam’s 200 mile exclusive economic zone. Such actions contravene all earlier agreements between the two countries about the settlement of South China disputes, said Pham Binh Minh.
The Vietnamese Minister confirmed Hanoi’s adherence to peaceful settlement of the new turn in relations with the northern neighbor as “Vietnam remains moderate and is guided by good will to ease tension in the two countries’ relations”. Binh Minh has sent his deputy to Beijing as a special representative and hopes for China’s positive reaction.
Beijing has long been on uneasy terms with many countries in the region as to territorial allegiance of the Nansha (Spratly), Shisha (Paracel Islands) and Huang Yan islands (Scarborough Reef) in the South China Sea, where experts expect large offshore oil reserves.
Countries involved in the dispute are Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines. China asserts its “indisputable” sovereignty over the islands.
Speaking of anti-Chinese protests that have recently swept through the Vietnamese cities and caused attacks of Chinese facilities and casualties, Pham Binh Minh said ringleaders would be punished, while new disorders would be prevented. The Vietnamese Government guaranteed security for foreigners living and working in Vietnam and protection of foreign investors’ interests, he told his counterpart.
A wave of protests against China’s unilateral actions in the South China Sea has swept across several large industrial parks in Vietnam’s south and center, where facilities owned by Chinese investors are located. More than 30,000 workers rampaged through industrial and administrative buildings and set fire to warehouses of about twenty plants.
Disorders also damaged Taiwanese, Japanese and Singaporian facilities, so that more than 1,000 foreign plants were forced to suspend operations. The damage is estimated at dozens of millions of dollars.
Vietnamese law enforcement authorities announced on Friday more than 800 people had been detained on suspicion of arranging the riots.