Hanoi’s claims of sovereignty in the East Vietnam Sea are consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), while Beijing has tried to change the status quo in the maritime area, a U.S. expert has said.
There is no evidence showing that Vietnam is conducting island construction activities in the sea, which refers to the practice of creating above-water land out of submerged features in order to change its legal status, Gregory Poling, a director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told the journal World Politics Review on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, China has done such activities and this is what has caused other countries claiming sovereignty in the area and the United States to be most upset, Poling said.
He also pointed out that Hanoi’s reclamation activities in the East Vietnam Sea are completely different in terms of size as well as the legal effects, compared with those conducted by China.
“Vietnam claims territorial sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands [Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos] within the [East Vietnam Sea]. It also claims a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone from its coast and, in two parts of the [East Vietnam Sea], a longer extended continental shelf as permitted by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the World Politics Review quoted him as saying.
Vietnam’s continental shelf claims, made in 2009, suggest that the country is not claiming any additional waters or seabed from the islands in the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos, except for a 12-nautical-mile territorial sea around each, Poling said.
At a press briefing in Hanoi on October 13, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs voiced its vehement protest against China’s construction of two lighthouses on Chau Vien (Cuarteron) and Gac Ma (Johnson South) Reefs, part of the country’s Truong Sa.
By building the facilities, China has seriously infringed on Vietnam’s sovereignty over the archipelago, said ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh, in reply to reporters’ questions on the illegal construction by China.