China's illegal construction on Phu Lam island of Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagos (Photo: CSIS)
China last week announced the establishment of the so-called "Xisha" district on Vietnam’s Hoang Sa archipelago and "Nansha" district on Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago under the so-called "Sansha City." Grigory Lokshin at the Centre for Vietnam and ASEAN Studies under the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Far Eastern Studies said the move shows that China intends to take advantage of the COVID-19 epidemic to seize complete control of the East Sea. Mr. Lokshin said this violates the UN Charter and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, both of which were signed and ratified by China. Vietnam has undeniable sovereignty over these archipelagos and this has been repeatedly recognized by an array of international legal documents, he said, adding that Vietnam’s legal sovereignty was once again asserted in a diplomatic note sent to the UN on March 30 and a statement of protest issued by the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on April 19.
Mr. Lokshin said Vietnamese leaders have adopted a responsible and reasonable policy to deal with the current situation. Vietnam is doing its utmost to defend its sovereignty and legal interests in the East Sea, while sparing no effort to maintain regional peace and stability, he said.
In its capacity as ASEAN Chair 2020, Vietnam has taken steps to unite the ASEAN community and present a common front against China's aggression, according to Mr. Lokshin. As a member of the UN Security Council, Vietnam is doing everything possible to clarify its position and win the support of the international community, he said.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s official electronic newspapers Masrawy, Shorouknews, and Youm7, quoted Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang as saying that Vietnam has strongly and repeatedly adduced sufficient historical and legal evidence to prove its sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelago.