It is obvious that China has no legal waters which could be the overlapping area, or in dispute w with Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and the southern continental shelf, including the Vanguard Bank.
According to the East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea) Chronicle Initiative, since July 3, 2019, Haiyang Dizhi 8, a Chinese geological exploration ship has been operating in the territorial waters belonging to the Vietnam’s special economic zone, near the Tu Chinh – Vung May (Vanguard Bank – Rifleman Bank).
The ship is escorted by at least three Chinese maritime surveillance vessels as discovered by satellites, including a 12,000 ton maritime surveillance ship, 3901 and a marine militia ship, Qiong Sansah Yu0014.
Satellite signals also dicovered the presence of three Chinese maritime surveillance vessels, Haijing 37111, Haijing and Zhongjing Zhongjing 46303.
Meanwhile, since June 18, 2019, a Chinese ship equipped with heavy weapons, 35111, has appeared 40 miles to the west of Vanguard Bank.
On July 12, the ship arrived at Fiery Cross Reef, then returned to its original location in the Vanguard Bank on July 14. This ship hasn’t directly joinef the escorting of Haiyang Dizhi 8, but has been present for the past month in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.
While Haiyang Dizhi 8 and escorted ships have been evading and operating for the last two weeks long in the Vietnamese special economic zone and the southern continental shelf in the Vanguard Bank area, on July 17, 2019, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said the Vietnamese government should respect China’s sovereignty over some areas in the East Sea, and the Vietnamese side should also refrain from actions that will exacerbate the situation in the region.
However, there is a question for him: What territorial waters does China have in the Vanguard Bank area?
We can affirm that China has no legal waters which could be the overlapping area, or in dispute with dispute with Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and the southern continental shelf in the Vanguard Bank.
The DK1 rig area, including the Vanguard Bank, is located within the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone from Vietnam’s baseline, and it is the southern continental shelf of Vietnam.
This is a marine area defined under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
This is the Vietnamese territorial waters which are in no dispute with any other countries, including China.
China shows two factors for claiming its sovereignty over this area.
The first one is the Chinese drawn the nine dash line.
The fact that China draws a cow tongue line lapping over 60 percent of Vietnam’s territorial waters, turning the Vietnamese undisputed into disputed area, is completely illegal, not recognized by the international laws.
The ruling of the international arbitral tribunal in the Philippines case against China, an international legal document guiding, explaining the 1982 Convention, flatly rejected China’s cow-tongue claim.
Although China does not participate in the lawsuit and claims not to accept the Judgment, this legal document remains its value.
The judgment of the international arbitral tribunal in the case of the Philippines suing China, an international legal document guiding, explaining the 1982 Convention, flatly rejected China’s cow-tongue claim.
Although China did not participate in the lawsuit and stated it won’t accept the judgment, the legal document’s value still exists.
Once the cow tongue line has no legal basis, this means that it has no value for China to claim the right to exploit resources in the area.
In other words, China doesn’t have any waters in dispute with Vietnam in the DK1 area, including the Vanguard Bank.
The second factor reasoned by China is that it considers the sea as the adjacent area of Chinese islands illegally occupied by China in Truong Sa (Spratly Islands).
However, even if the islands that China is illegally occupying ‘belong to Chinese long-standing sovereignty’ as it says, it won’t be able to claim sovereignty over the surrounding waters, including waters in the Vanguard Bank.