Vietnam denies report of maritime militia
Vietnam has denied a Chinese daily’s report about suspicions that it was arming fishing vessels and creating a maritime militia.
The Foreign Ministry described the news as incorrect and that Vietnam completely refuted it, saying it adhered to international law in pursuing its policy of peace and self-defense.
The Vn Express reports Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang saying on Thursday that all activities undertaken by Vietnam’s authorities was according to domestic and international law, especially The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
She was responding on a China Daily article about “Vietnam’s militia-armed fishing boats” in the South China Sea.
The opinion piece carried by the daily said that China suspects Vietnam has equipped fishing vessels with arms and that Beijing was concerned that this would further complicate disputes and safety of navigation in the South China Sea.
The China Daily article on Jan 7 claimed that according to foreign media reports, 400-tonne steel militia-armed fishing boats were being built in batches by a shipyard in Da Nang, Vietnam and that they have been launched with trial voyages.
It said Vietnam’s massive construction of maritime militia ships has aroused the attention of neighbouring countries in the South China Sea and international public opinion.
The article further said that compared with the traditional small wooden fishing boats in Vietnam and the iron-hull fishing boats built by Vietnamese fishermen with government subsidies since 2014, these steel militia ships are well manufactured and equipped.
It claimed that they have been specially strengthened in their hull structure and are equipped with water cannons and heavy machine gun mounts.
Some high-level ship types are said to also have a bow thruster, which makes steering of the vessels more flexible.
In denying the claims, Hang said that Vietnam makes every effort to contribute to maintaining peace, stability, security, safety, cooperation and development in the South China Sea, in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS.
Vietnam has been at odds with China over the latter’s activities in disputed areas in South China Sea.
There are overlapping claims of territories and islands with the Paracel and Spratly islands often being points of contention for many countries with China.
Vietnam had said last year that China’s deployment of ships and aircraft at the Spratly Islands were illegal activities that violated the sovereignty and other relevant rights of the country.
It also claimed that the Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands, has been illegally occupied and militarised by China.
New Straits Times – January 21, 2022