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Law experts discuss legal actions against China

VGP - Defying Viet Nam’s request, China has failed to withdraw its floating drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 from Viet Nam’s exclusive economic zone, and experts say using legal actions against China’s illegal move is a practical option for Viet Nam, said radio The Voice of Viet Nam (VOV) on May 27.

May 28, 2014 5:03 PM GMT+7

VOV quoted Dr Nguyen Toan Thang from the Ha Noi Law University as saying that Viet Nam has the right to sue China for violating its sovereignty in the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

He said Viet Nam has sufficient legal basis to assert that Haiyang Shiyou-981 has been placed deep inside its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. It can sue China in accordance with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

China’s illegal placement of the oil rig and its provocative attitude towards Viet Nam is a clear violation of international law, especially the 1982 UNCLOS. Accordingly, China violates Viet Nam's sovereign right and jurisdiction in its exclusive economic zone. Its action runs counter to the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC).

Dr. Nguyen Thi Thuan from the Ha Noi Law University says China makes a thorough preparation for its sovereign ambition scheme, but evidence it gives is fabricated.

One of arguments China often uses to justify its illegal activities in Viet Nam’s exclusive economic zone, is a note that the then Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong sent to Chinese Premier Chou Enlai in 1958.

China has tried very hard to rationalise that the note was Viet Nam’s recognition of China’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, known as Xisha and Nansha in Chinese.

According to Dr. Tran Cong Truc, former Head of the Government Border Committee, the note did not say that Viet Nam recognized China’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos.

“The 1954 Geneva Accords recognised the Republic of Viet Nam and the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam as two political entities, which were equal in international relations and territorial sovereignty,” Truc says.

“Geographically, Hoang Sa and Truong Sa were on the southern side of parallel 17, so they were controlled by the Republic of Viet Nam, which perpetuated Viet Nam’s continuous, peaceful and real sovereignty over these archipelagos,” he added.

Dr Nguyen Ba Dien, Director of the Center for the Sea and International Marine Law under the Ha Noi-based National University, said China’s sovereign ambition is endless and Viet Nam must be well prepared for a tough legal struggle with ample evidence and persuasive arguments.

Viet Nam has no choice but to use legal actions as an effect tool for settling this case, Dien told VOV online.

“Bringing China to the international arbitration court is a strong political measure. It is obviously difficult, but it cannot be undone,” he said, adding China does not have any legal basis to justify its claim.

Lawyer Truong Trong Nghia, Vice President of the Viet Nam Bar Association, echoed Dien’s view, saying China’s claim of its sovereignty over Viet Nam’s Hoang Sa is groundless and a legal tool is a must for Viet Nam.

In his opinion, this legal struggle will certainly last a long time because it follows complex international principles and requires great expertise, both domestically and internationally. To ensure the success, it needs to garner additional international support.

Former French General Jean-Vincent Brisset and experts from Harvard University and University of Massachusetts-Boston suggested that Viet Nam bring China to the international arbitration court as an effective way of dealing with China’s violation of international law.

Addressing the recent World Economic Forum on East Asia in Myanmar, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung did not rule out the possibility of using self-defence options, including legal actions, to defend its sovereignty.

Viet Nam cherishes peace and exercises restraint from disputes with China . In defiance of Viet Nam’s goodwill, China has constantly made slanderous allegations to defend its wrongful act. Viet Nam believes justice is on its side.-VNA