VietNamNet Bridge – “Vietnam has sufficient evidence to sue China at international jurisdiction agencies, against its flagrant infringement of Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, sabotaging normal and legal operations,” said former chief of the Vietnamese government’s Border Committee, lawyer Tran Cong Truc, in an interview with VietNamNet.
Former chief of the Vietnamese government’s Border Committee, lawyer Tran Cong Truc
VietNamNet: The public opinion has been stirred up by the Binh Minh 02 ship case, in which Chinese patrol ships snipped cables of Vietnam’s oil surveillance ship in the sea of Vietnam on May 26. However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on May 31, that the acts of Chinese patrol boats was “completely justified" and warned Vietnam to “refrain from creating new incidents” in the East Sea. What is your comment?
Lawyer Tran Cong Truc: This is quibbling, upstaging and unacceptable statements of China. Who is creating incidents in the East Sea? Who created the Reed Bank incident with the Philippines in March and now the Binh Minh 02 incident with Vietnam? Who sent military ships to harass ships of other countries in the areas without disputes? And who has been rousing up the East Sea in the last two years with the unhidden ambition of holding 80 percent of the East Sea and turn this area into its pond? The truth is obvious and we don’t need to further discuss about it.
The Binh Minh 02 ship case is an extremely serious event and a flagrant infringement of Vietnam’s law and Vietnam’s sovereignty over its continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, which are recognized by international law. This is violation to the international precedence.
VietNamNet: Apart from expressing our clear viewpoint as we have performed, what should Vietnam do further?
Lawyer Tran Cong Truc: What we have done in the last few days are sound, resolute and appropriate to legal procedures. The voice of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson is right and shows Vietnam’s hard attitude. However, we cannot stop right there. Vietnam needs to continue its actions to make the domestic and world opinions to clearly understand the situation.
We need to analyze and tell the international community, tell the countries that have sympathy to Vietnam and neutral countries to show them how Vietnam deals with this issue.
We need to show them that Vietnam has been extremely restrained in this case. In such a case, a clash can easily happen, which will affect not only Vietnam but also the region and the world.
I highly appreciate the Vietnamese government’s restraint in this case. But restraint doesn’t mean submission. We need to have specific solutions to solve this issue.
We have to tell the truth, the legal foundation and the way of settlement of Vietnam, which are suitable to international standards gain popularity.
We also need to analyze to help the world opinion understand that if China’s wrongdoings are not prevented, this country will keep escalating and being more aggressive, directly affecting the interests of countries in the region, not only Vietnam’s.
VietNamNet: Does Vietnam have enough evidences to sue China in the international court for its flagrant infringement of Vietnam’s sovereignty?
Lawyer Tran Cong Truc: In my opinion, we have sufficient evidences to sue China with international jurisdiction agencies or the newly-established court on continental shelf. There are two levels:
The first level: The Vietnamese State sues Chinese ships for breaking in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, hindering the legal, normal operations of Vietnamese ships.
I would like to repeat that we sue China for violation acts, not the area of dispute. This is not the area of dispute. This is proceeding against the flagrant infringement of Vietnam’s law and Vietnam’s right of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The second level: The Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam), the owner of Binh Minh 02 ship, can proceed with a lawsuit. PetroVietnam entirely filmed the incident and the position where it occurred. Obviously, we have the position where the Chinese patrol ships made the violation and sabotage. We can calculate economic and technical losses to sue them.
I think that we should consider a lawsuit. When we fill up the lawsuit, the international opinion will have sympathy with us. Vietnam is not alone in dealing with this case. I believe that competent agencies have considered this.
I would like to emphasize that we sue China for breaking into our sea and sabotage the assets of the Vietnamese State, not to define the sea border. State agencies must understand this clearly; otherwise, we would fall in the plot to regularize the process to take the sea area that they have never had.
VietNamNet: It seems that China has carefully arranged the time of action, when other powers are busy with other hot spots in the world or perhaps China has reached some compromises?
Lawyer Tran Cong Truc: China always calculates each step and specific times in their plan to expand to the East Sea. The history shows us that in 1974, China took troops to occupy the western part of the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago at the time the Saigon regime was about to collapse, the US withdrew from south Vietnam and China shook hands with the US.
In the current situation, we cannot conclude whether the world pays attention to this or not but it is obvious that the interests of the US in the East Sea is huge. The East Sea is the world’s center of maritime trade and the US is responsible for maintaining regional security. Many American leaders stated that the US cannot withdraw from Asia though this superpower is facing many difficulties and deeply involving in many hot spots in the world.
However, to win the world’s support, we have to show our goodwill, the truth and our sound solutions. We have to make our direction clearly.
Actually, China’s expansion to the East Sea is a consistent strategy, which has been implemented for a long time. We are not allowed to be inattentive and lack vigilance.
We should have systematic research works and have solutions for any circumstance that can happen. We cannot be on the defensive because once our sovereignty is violated, if we are on the defensive, we will be in the disadvantageous position.
The border and territory is not the affair of the only the Foreign Ministry. It is important to have the united strength of the entire Vietnamese at home and abroad.
Vietnamese people have never submitted to tyrannical power and the history has proven it.
Researcher Duong Danh Huy: Vietnam must define and confirm the border for sea areas of the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos, and confirm that disputes can only happen in these area. A violation to Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone which is outside the dispute areas is the illegal expansion.
After defining the dispute areas, Vietnam has to make public its sea border. All maps of Vietnam should show Vietnam’s viewpoint on the border of the dispute areas in the East Sea, the border of its exclusion economic zone and continental shelf, which are not related to the dispute areas. Vietnam should send the maps to other countries and international organizations.
China’s claim for 75 percent of the East Sea is groundless and China has to disguise its claim by vagueness. Vietnam has to counter it by reasonable and transparent borders.
Vietnam should negotiate with other Southeast Asian countries which involve in the dispute of the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos. First of all, Vietnam and these countries need to reach an agreement on the common border of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa disputes. After that, Vietnam and these countries should to agree that they all support victims in the case violations of sovereignty out of the border of the dispute areas happen.
In the case of Binh Minh 02 ship, if Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia all condemn China’s act, that common voice would be stronger than only the voice of Vietnam.
Vietnam can also ask for the international court of justice’s consulting opinion, which says that the Binh Minh 02 ship and similar cases happened in the areas out of the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa dispute areas.
Anyway, in each specific case, any violation to Vietnam’s sovereignty must pay the penalty diplomatically. The image of the country that takes perverse violations is a brazen image. If the violator doesn’t have to pay penalty for its wrong action, at least by a bad image, they will continue violations and the violation will be more brazen.
Lan Anh - TVN