Vietnamese foreign ministry's spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang during the press briefing on Thursday in Hanoi. Photo: VNA

The comment was made by foreign ministry affairs’ spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang during the regular press briefing held online on Thursday, in response to questions over whether the move signifies that Vietnam might step up its legal actions against China’s aggression and claims in the East Sea, especially amidst the backdrop of growing tensions over China’s sinking of Vietnamese fishermen’s boat with eight crew members onboard on April 4th off the waters of Hoàng Sa islands.

The incident not only drew sharp criticism from Vietnam, but also earned condemnation from the US and the Philippines, who is also a territory claimant in the resource-rich seas.

Vietnam maintains the view that all disputes in the East Sea region (known internationally as the South China Sea) must be resolved by peaceful measures in line with international law – especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.

“The viewpoint of Vietnam has been stated clearly in the diplomatic note,” Hang said.

“Vietnam reaffirms its sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) islands, as well as the country’s sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the waters defined in line with UNCLOS 1982.”

Previously in a diplomatic note sent to UN chief António Guterres on March 30th, Vietnam’s mission to the UN categorically rejected and protested China’s own submission of two diplomatic notes reiterating its illegal claims over the islands in the East Sea.

Vietnam’s note stressed that the basis for legal rights on the seas must be the UNCLOS, not China’s “historical claims.”

Regarding reports of China’s intention of deploying AVIC AG600, which it claimed to be the world’s largest amphibious aircraft whose purpose is for research and survey, to the East Sea, the Vietnamese foreign ministry’s official said that the maintenance of peace and security, freedom of navigation – be it air or maritime – in the area is in the interests and responsibilities of all countries in and outside the region.

“We hope that all countries would strive to enhance cooperation and have meaningful contributions to peace and order in the region, for the common good,” Hang stressed./.