Commenting on the Philippine military chief’s arrival on Thitu Island, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry has reiterated the nation’s sovereignty over the Truong Sa archipelago and slammed all infringements.
“As we have repeatedly affirmed, Vietnam has sufficient historical evidence and legal basis to assert its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) islands in accordance with international law,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said Thursday at a press meet.
“Vietnam resolutely opposes against all acts of infringements of its sovereignty and rights related to these islands,” Hang said.
The Chief of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Cirilito Sobejana, visited Thitu, which the Philippines calls Pagasa, on Monday but this information was only made public by the AFP on Wednesday.
He said “he wanted to inspect the island to oversee plans to convert it into a logistics hub to make it easier for naval assets conducting patrols to refuel,” Reuters reported.
Thitu, with area of 37.2 hectares, is the second largest of Vietnam’s Spratly archipelago.
The island is illegally occupied by the Philippines. Last year, Manila spent $26 million to build and renovate structures on the island, including runways.
Hang said, “Vietnam requests that relevant parties respect Vietnam’s sovereignty and international law, abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and not undertake activities that complicate the situation.
“All parties should positively contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability in the East Sea (South China Sea), as well as create conducive environments for negotiations for a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea.”
Responding to the Chinese coast guard’s presence off Triton Island in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa archipelago, Hang said Vietnamese authorities closely monitored all activities in the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagoes, as well as Vietnam’s waters in the East Sea.
China seized the Paracel Islands from South Vietnam by force in 1974, and Spratly Islands from Vietnam in 1988.
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