Since May 1, China has unilaterally deployed its HD-981 rig and many vessels, including military ships, in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf. This action violates Vietnam’s sovereign rights and its jurisdiction over the EEZ of 200 nautical miles and continental shelf. More dangerously, China escalated tensions when its ships, under the support of aircraft, rammed vessels of the Vietnamese coast guard.
While Vietnam maintains a policy of restraint and using dialogue to negotiate, China is increasingly expressing its aggression. Therefore, in addition to finding the support of the international community, Vietnam should be “self- reliant”.
Facing China’s aggressive acts to push tensions to a climax, Vietnam should set out a strategy for rational and sustainable value . Besides political and diplomatic moves, a solution based on the legal process may be a positive suggestion.
Through the principle of voluntary implementation of international commitments (pacta sunt servanda), international law has high practical value. Specifically, international law can help prevent conflict, resolve disputes and promote cooperation in international relations. The universality and binding power of international law has become the preferred choice of many countries in the resolution of disputes and the prevention of conflicts.
As China has repeatedly delayed and has been even unwilling to resolve disputes, Vietnam may unilaterally submit the dispute to the arbitral tribunal. Specifically, Vietnam can request the establishment of an arbitral tribunal under Annex VII of the UNCLOS, in case China does not agree to bring the case to the international court of the law of the sea.