Opinion
Vietnam should take East Sea dispute to the courts
  • By Le Chan Nhan | dtinews.vn | May 20, 2014 03:11 PM
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Amid rising tensions over the East Sea, including some violent clashes, Vietnam may have to resort to international court to resolve the matter peacefully.

A Chinese ship ramming a Vietnamese coast guard ship No. 2013, destroying all guard-rails on May 18

Since China illegally placed an oil rig within the Vietnamese Exclusive Economic Zone, Vietnamese forces and fishing vessels in the area have had to show great restraint in order to avoid escalation. The protective actions of the Vietnamese coast guard and fishing fleet have brought international attention to the fact that Vietnam intends to protect its territorial waters.

Meanwhile, China has continued to send ships and aircraft to the areas surrounding the oil in an attempt to intimidate Vietnamese vessels. The Vietnamese fleet in the area is much smaller, however Vietnamese ships are determined to keep a presence there in order to protect the nation's territorial waters and islands. There is a concerted effort by the Vietnamese side to put pressure on the Chinese to remove the oil rig located in an area that has been recognised by the international community as being part of Vietnam.

The country's leadership has been very careful to pursue peaceful means of retaining and protecting its territory. On September 27, 2013, at the UN General Assembly’s 68th session in the United States, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung delivered a speech entitled “Mankind needs a world free from war and hunger”.

In the speech, PM echoed both the Vietnamese and American declarations of independence, saying, “All men are created equal, all endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All human life is precious, irrespective of race, religion or gender. Taking away a single life causes heart-break and pain to a family whether right here in Manhattan or far away in a remote corner of the earth”.

“Therefore, any effort to prevent conflict must be valued and supported. Any effort to preserve peace must be fully exhausted,” he emphasised.

For the sake of stability and safety in the region, Vietnam has chosen the path of dialogue. Besides its diplomatic activities, many local and foreign experts have proposed that Vietnam sue China at an international court.

At a meeting with voters in Ho Chi Minh City on May 16, many citizens suggested the same. Speaking with the voters, President Truong Tan Sang said legal actions have not been excluded, but that Vietnam must to consider the most opportune time to take that path. President Sang said, “If this dispute continues in the way it is going, then legal actions must be taken.”

Using international courts for solving the dispute is the best way for the country to protect its national sovereignty peacefully. This would also prove Vietnam’s respect for international law. Vietnam would be able to clearly prove its sovereignty over the East Sea. At the moment, the country needs the world community’s support. In this way, Vietnam will be able to achieve both justice and peace.

Despite numerous difficulties, Vietnam will have to do its utmost to make its case against these Chinese violations. 

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