Thursday, June 5, 2014

Update from Embassy of Viet Nam: June 4

Dear friends and colleagues,

I would like to share with you the latest updates on China’s oil-rig operation in Vietnam’s EEZ and continental shelf.
1. PM Nguyen Tan Dung on Sunday issued an instruction to task relevant ministries, agencies and localities to beef up the realization of measures to support foreign-funded enterprises which were affected by recent anti-China protests in some localities.

Positive news about the situation are trickling in. More than 2,100 out of 2,650 foreign experts have returned to their work in industrial zones in the southern province of Binh Duong as almost all riot-affected enterprises have resumed operation. Formosa Project in Vung Ang, Ha Tinh Province is also back to operation since end of last week.

2. The past two weeks have been quite busy for US – Vietnam relation. PM Nguyen Tan Dung on June 2 welcomed an American business delegation led by Secretary of the Department of Commerce Penny Pritzker. State President Truong Tan Sang on June 2 also hosted a reception for the Secretary.

Meanwhile, National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung on June 3 welcomed a delegation from the US House of Representatives, headed by Congressman John Kline. Deputy Minister of National Defence Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh hosted a reception for Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Kelly Magsamen in Hanoi on June 4, on the occasion of her working visit to Vietnam.

3. Agencies in Vietnam are closely monitoring the HY981 oil rig.  The Viet Nam Fisheries Surveillance Department on June 1 detected that China’s oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981, illegally stationed in Vietnamese waters, may not be fixed in a stable position. Please see attached update for further information

4. The Prime Minister has decided to invest 200 million USD in building four more large-scale vessels for the Fisheries Surveillance Force to allow them to better carry out their law enforcement missions in the country’s waters and supporting Vietnamese fishermen. On June 4, he inspected Viet Nam’s largest fishery surveillance vessel KN-781 which will be delivered this month.

5. A lot of discussion have been taking place in Vietnam about the possibility of bring the case to UN Tribunal, like the Philippines has done. However, there are news reports states that “China refused to defend its territorial claims in the South China Sea to a United Nations tribunal because it doesn’t recognize international arbitration of its dispute with the Philippines.”

6. The following are the highlights of international responses to current developments provoked by the illegal installation of Chinese oil rig in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Viet Nam. 

        For those of you who would like to read further about Vietnam, these are the newspaper and English news with reliable news in Vietnam:

            - Government News Portal:
            - Vietnam News Agency:
            - Thanhnien Daily:
            - Tuoitre Daily:
            - People Daily:

Thank you for your time and consideration.
With best regards,
Dzung Le

Update on situation at the oil rig (June 4th, 2014)
(Day 35)
1. Situation:
- On June 4 afternoon, China maintained 35-40 coast guard vessels, about 30 cargo ships and tugboats, 40-45 fishing vessels and four military ships at the site, along with a renaissance aircraft. Chinese vessels kept on hindering Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance ships and driving them about 7-9 nautical miles away from the rig.
- China Oilfield Services Limited (COSL) has recently announced its already-signed contracts for the construction of three new drilling units (including a 300ft jack-up rig ‘Gulf Driller I, a 400ft jack-up rig HYSY944, and a 300-ft jack-up rig Haiyangshiyou 932) and its plans to boost the operators rig fleet to over 40 drilling rigs. The rig 932  arrived at Bohai Bay on April 28 and commenced drilling services for clients.
            2. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said to Bloomberg News on May 30  that “We are prepared and ready for legal action”; “We are considering the most appropriate timing to take this measure.”
3. Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh said at the Shangri la Dialogue on May 31:  China must join talks with Vietnam in order to maintain peace, stability and friendship between the two countries; Under this policy, Vietnam has acted with restraint; we have not used aircraft, missile ships, etc. We have only deployed coast guard vessels and fisheries surveillance ships which haven't deliberately rammed or sprayed water at Chinese ships. In return, we demand that China withdraw its rig from Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone; Taking legal proceedings is also a peaceful measure that complies with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Charter of the United Nations. But it is a last resort.
4. Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh told reporters on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue on May 30 that “They (China) have asked us several times not to bring the case to international court,” and “Our response was that it’s up to China’s activities and behavior; if they continue to push us, we have no choice. This (legal) option is also in accordance with international law.”
5. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel made an address at Shangri-la dialogue on May 30: "... China has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea"; " We (the U.S.) take no position on competing territorial claims. But we firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert those claims. We also oppose any effort – by any nation – to restrict overflight or freedom of navigation – whether from military or civilian vessels, from countries big or small. The United States will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged."
6. Japanese Prime Minister made a speech at Shangri-la dialogue on May 30: "Japan will offer its utmost support for the efforts of the countries of ASEAN as they work to ensure the security of the seas and the skies, and thoroughly maintain freedom of navigation and freedom of over-flight"; "We likewise support Vietnam in its efforts to resolve issues through dialogue. Movement to consolidate changes to the status quo by aggregating one fait accompli after another can only be strongly condemned as something that contravenes the spirit of these three principles".
7. Australian Defense Minister David Johnston on May 30: “They (China) ’ve been certainly unhelpful, and if they’re unhelpful they must be destabilizing”; “The unilateral action of the declaration of boundaries is completely unhelpful and takes us in the wrong direction.”
8. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Australian Defence Minister David Johnston held trilateral defense ministerial talks on the margins of Shangri-la dialogue on May 3: i) Underscoring their shared interest in the maintenance of peace and stability; respect for international law and unimpeded lawful commerce; and upholding freedom of navigation and over-flight in the East China and South China Seas. ii) Expressing their strong opposition to the use of coercion or force to unilaterally alter the status quo in the East China and South China Seas. iii) Calling on claimants to refrain from actions that could increase tensions to clarify and pursue claims in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); iv) Reaffirming their support for the rights of claimants to seek peaceful resolution of disputes, including through legal mechanisms, such as arbitration, under the convention. v) Calling for ASEAN and China to reach early agreement on a meaningful Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

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