Deputy spokesperson for Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Đoàn Khắc Việt. — VNA/VNS Photo
Deputy spokesperson for Vietnamese foreign ministry Đoàn Khắc Việt made the statement on Thursday during a press conference held in Hanoi, in response to reports from China’s Global Times indicating that Chinese troops illegally occupying Vietnam’s Phú Lâm (Woody) Island have harvested more than a tonne of vegetables grown using sand-to-soil cultivation technology.
The move was done to further Chinese claims over the East Sea (South China Sea internationally)’s many disputed features, which have been deemed by international law experts not technically islands and therefore not capable of guaranteeing extended maritime claims to the waters surrounding an island.
Vietnam has repeatedly affirmed its indisputable sovereignty over the Hoàng Sa (Paracel) and Trường Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes as well as the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in the East Sea, Việt said.
“All actions that are conducted on the archipelagoes without expressed permission from Vietnam are invalid,” Việt said.
He also denounced Chinese ships exploiting sand in the East Sea, calling these acts violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty and sovereign rights, and breaches of international law.
In a related development, the deputy spokesperson also responded to questions regarding the US’s handing over the USCGC John Midgett to Vietnam’s coast guard at the end of 2020.
Việt said the US-Vietnam comprehensive partnership is on the path of progress over many sectors, including defence co-operation.
Based on agreements the two sides have achieved, Vietnam and the US continue to step up bilateral defence ties, including maritime security and maritime law enforcement capacity building, to maintain peace and stability, promote collaboration and development in the region and the world, Việt said.
The John Midgett is the second Hamilton-class high endurance cutter that Vietnam has received from the US, following the purchase of USCGC Morgenthau in 2017 to be used by Vietnam Coast Guard as a patrol craft.
Regarding the upcoming National Assembly vote on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) at the ongoing ninth sitting in Hanoi, Việt said the two agreements are expected to create new momentum for the partnership between the two sides.
He noted that following negotiations and close co-ordination between Vietnam and the EU, the European Parliament ratified the two agreements on February 12. On March 30, the European Council approved the European Parliament’s ratification, finalising the EU’s internal legal procedures regarding ratification of the EVFTA.
The EVIPA, meanwhile, still requires ratification by the parliaments of member nations.
The two agreements are expected to generate considerable benefits for the economies, businesses and peoples of both Vietnam and the EU, creating new momentum for the partnership, according to Việt.
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