MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – On the same day it was disclosed that Vietnam is mulling “legal actions” against China over disputes in the South China Sea, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung blasted China before political and business heavyweights gathered at the World Economic Forum on East Asia here.
While stressing that Vietnam “strives for peace and stability in Asia Pacific,” Dung slammed China for violating international law and failing to adhere to his country’s demands to “immediately withdraw” a drilling rig it deployed near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
Speaking before the WEF at the Makati Shangri-la on Thursday, May 22, Dung said China’s actions “threaten peace, stability, and security and freedom of navigation and aviation” in the East Sea (South China Sea) and violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“Vietnam always wants peace and friendship,” Dung said in Vietnamese. “We have exercised utmost restraint and showed every… good goal and exhausted all dialogue channels to communicate with Chinese authorities of different levels by expressing protest and demanding China to immediately withdraw its drilling rig and its escorting vessels from the Vietnamese waters.”
He added: “We ask China to observe the 1982 UNCLOS. However, China (has failed) to respond to Vietnam’s legitimate demand. On the contrary, it has been slandering and blaming Vietnam while continuing to use force and escalating its increasingly adventurous and serious act of intimidation and violation.“
“The entire Vietnamese nation has been protesting against China,” Dung said, adding the government has had to manage unrest over the dispute and punish law violators.
Early this week, thousands of Chinese nationals awaited evacuation from riot-hit Vietnam, as Hanoi moved to stifle protests.
More than 3,000 Chinese have already returned home from Vietnam following riots by citizens protesting China’s deployment of an oil rig to the Paracels.
In an earlier e-mail sent exclusively to Reuters, Dung said, “Vietnam is considering various defense options, including legal actions in accordance with international law.”
The Philippines has said it wants Vietnam, along with Malaysia, to join its historic case against China over the disputed waters, parts of which it calls the West Philippine Sea. (READ: Will Vietnam follow PH and file case vs China?)
While Dung warned China’s actions could have an adverse impact on the region, he also stressed that regional integration, in parallel with domestic reforms, remains to be at the core of Vietnam’s economic policy.
Dung said Vietnam has been actively making contributions in the ASEAN by promoting negotiations on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“I believe this provides good opprortunities for companies to expand in Vietnam as well as other Asia-Pacific countries,” Dung said. “Domestic reform must be coupled with international integration.”
But Dung conceded development is not possible without peace and stability in the region.
WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab meanwhile appealed to stakeholders to resolve their disputes in a peaceful manner.
“The World Economic Forum is a neutral organization and we don’t take stands. But I appeal, on behalf of the World Economic Forum, to all parties to resort to discussions and dialogue to resolve the situation, which has potential to create a situation we all do not want to have, if you look at our future economically and politically. We are living in a global world, we need global partnerships, we need global peace,” Schwab said.
Dung joined Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Myanmar Vice President U Nyan Tun in a panel hosted by Schwab.
This is the first time the Philippines is hosting WEF on East Asia – which brings together over 600 government and business leaders – over two decades since its inception.
China did not send official representatives to WEF but the organization has denied the absence had something do with its disputes with either the Philippines or Vietnam. – Rappler.com
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