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Vietnam protests Malaysian move in disputed Spratlys

Muzi Lateline News ( 6/28/99] HANOI - A spokesperson for the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry on Monday reiterated the country's claim to sovereignty over the disputed Spratly Islands, describing a recent move by Malaysia in the archipelago as ''a violation of Vietnam's sovereignty.'' Lateline News
''Vietnam possesses adequate historical evidence and legal grounds to prove its sovereignty over the Spratlys,'' the official said in a statement in reply to a question by the state-run Vietnam News Agency about what it described as Malaysia's occupation of shoals in the island group. Lateline News
Malaysia has acknowledged building structures on Investigator Shoal. Lateline News
''Vietnam's stance is to proceed to a fundamental and long-lasting solution to disputes in this area,'' the official said, calling for self-restraint and strict observation of international laws pending such a solution. Lateline News
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam - all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - together with China and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the Spratlys.

Vietnam dismissed claims by Chinese archaeologists...

[Lateline News ( 3/26/99] BEIJING - Vietnam on Friday dismissed claims by Chinese archaeologists that their underwater discovery of ancient artifacts near the Paracel Islands proves Chinese sovereignty over the disputed area, Kyodo News reported.

''The discovery of Chinese artifacts in Japan does not prove that Japan belongs to China,'' said Bui Suu Ans, political councilor at the Vietnamese Embassy in Beijing.

Lateline News
''Chinese artifacts have been found in many parts of the world, but that does not mean that the sites where they are found are part of China's territory.''
Lateline News
The state-run China Daily reported Friday that Zhang Wei, head of the underwater archaeology department at the Chinese Museum of Natural History, said the discovery of artifacts near the islands proves Chinese were the islands' earliest inhabitants.
Lateline News
Zhang said divers found 1,500 relics dating from 907 among the wrecks of merchant ships, during a 39-day expedition ending in January to the islands lying between Vietnam and China's Hainan Island, the newspaper reported.
Lateline News
China has claimed sovereignty over the Paracel Islands since it sent military ships to ''liberate'' them in 1974 during the dying stages of the Vietnam War.
Lateline News
On March 9, Vietnam said the Paracel Islands were an indisputable part of its territory, following reports that China was building a military base and runway there.
Lateline News
Chinese President Jiang Zemin and his Vietnamese counterpart Le Kha Phieu agreed to settle territorial disputes ''at an early date'' during Kha Phieu's February visit to China.
Lateline News
China, however, is continuing with efforts to bolster its sovereignty claim by turning the largest of the islands, Yongxing, into a seaside resort, complete with fishing, diving and pleasure boat tours.

Sino-Vietnamese Joint Working Group for Tonkin Gulf Delineation Meets

The Sino-Vietnamese joint working group for delineation of the Bac Bo (Tonkin) Gulf ended its 11th session in Hanoi on January 28.

The two sides were optimistic about the results obtained since their previous session nearly one year ago. During this session, both sides discussed issues relating to the demarcation of the Bac Bo Gulf. They agreed to accelerate negotiations to achieve the target set by leaders of the two countries for reaching an agreement on the Bac Bo Gulf delineation before the end of 2000.

The two sides agreed to hold their 12th meeting in Beijing in the second quarter of 1999.(VNA)


Ha Noi, Jan. 27 (VNA) -- It was a festive day for soldiers and officers on Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago when they were plugged into solar energy as an alternative power supply last year.

A group of 15 solar energy researchers working with the National Centre for Natural Sciences and Technology in Ho Chi Minh City shared the joy.

It was impossible to fit solarlabs right in Truong Sa. Scientific workers had to carry equipment and material to Cam Ranh Bay where they fitted the labs. After trial operation, the solarlabs were transported to Truong Sa. Many people, however, did not believe the project would work until it actually did. The success of solarlabs in the archipelago confounded sceptics of this newly-introduced technology.

Electricity from solarlabs serve soldiers on Truong Sa in their daily life and machinery maintenance service as well.

Solar energy improves living conditions of inhabitants in remote, isolated and island areas which are not yet linked to the national electricity grid.

Associate Doctor Le Hoang To, head of the group of solar energy researchers, was presented with the '98 Kovalevskaia Award, an annual recognition of outstanding female scientists in Viet Nam.

She and her group have installed hundreds of solarlabs in 40 provinces and cities and three islands.--VNA

Mon., Jan. 25, 1999 at: Lon 2:57 p.m. Pra 3:57 p.m. NY 9:57 a.m. HK 9:57 p.m.

Sino-Vietnam Border Negotiations Yield Limited Results

HANOI, Jan. 25, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) A new round of negotiations between Vietnam and China to map out their common land border have ended without significant progress, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

The ministry said the talks on the 1,130 kilometer (700-mile) joint frontier took place between January 7 and 21 in secret, and involved experts from both countries.

The two countries have both pledged to push forward the negotiations to hammer out a signed treaty on the land border by 2000.

The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry said a new round of talks would be held in Beijing in March.

There are more than 100 disputed areas along the winding border dating from the two countries' brief war in 1979.

The two countries also have maritime disputes. Differences remain on the Gulf of Tonkin, to the south of China and north of Vietnam on which the two sides have also agreed to work for an agreement before 2000.

China and Vietnam also dispute the sovereignty of the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea. ( (c) 1998 Agence France Presse)

Vietnam expressed its deep concern

HANOI, Jan 18 (AFP) - Vietnam on Monday expressed its deep concern over developments on the Spratly Islands where Philippine officials say China has begun building another structure.

"We are following with deep worry the complex evolution in the region of Vanh Khan (Mischief Reef) in the Spratlys," foreign ministry spokesperson Phan Thuy Thanh said in a statement.

"These developments will not help the stability and cooperation in the region," she added.

According to a Philippine military report, reconnaissance flights found another Chinese structure on Mischief Reef, an outcrop of the Spratly Island chain.

The Chinese structures on Mischief Reef have raised concern from the Philippines, which claims the reef. The Philippines says the structures have military purposes, although China says they are shelters for fishermen.

Thanh called on the parties concerned to practice restraint, and to avoid threatening or destabilizing measures so that a peaceful solution could be negotiated.

The Spratly chain in the South China Sea is believed to sit on vast mineral resources. The islands are wholly or partially claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Regional tensions reached a near boiling point in 1995 when China built its first permanent structure on Mischief reef which was recently expanded.

China's recent activities in Philippine-claimed areas prompted Manila to call for greater international attention to the issue, including supporting an international conference on the Spratlys to be attended by all claimants.

In a meeting last week, Philippine Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado won the support of his US counterpart, Richard Cohen, for the holding of such a multilateral meeting.

However, China has rejected US mediation, with foreign ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi saying that "external interference in this matter is unacceptable and will only complicate the current situation."

China has insisted that talks on the issue should be on a bilateral basis between the claimants, a situation the Philippines believes would give China an advantage.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Philippine President Joseph Estrada discussed the Spratlys on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Kuala Lumpur in November, during which they agreed to hold expert-level discussions on the issue later this year.

Thu., Jan. 14, 1999 at: Lon 11:18 a.m. Pra 12:18 p.m. NY 6:18 a.m. HK 6:18 p.m.

Vietnam Says Spratlys Issue for Claimants Only

HANOI, Jan. 14, 1999 -- (Reuters) Vietnam said on Thursday discussions concerning territorial disputes over the Spratly Islands should be limited to claimant countries.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh, responding to questions over a United States offer to broker a meeting between the six regional claimants to the group of islands, said Hanoi had not been officially informed of the initiative.

"We haven't got any official information on this," she said.

"Vietnam thinks that disputes in the (South China Sea) should be solved by peaceful methods through bilateral negotiation and negotiation between directly related parties."

Thanh said talks should be based on absolute respect for international laws.

"While seeking a basic and long-term resolution, the related parties must maintain the status quo and carry out trust-building measures, be self-restrained and not do anything that might cause the situation to be more complicated," she said.

The Spratlys, believed to be rich in oil and natural gas deposits, are a cluster of almost 200 largely uninhabited isles, reefs and rocky outcrops claimed wholly or in part by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan.

Malaysian national news agency Bernama reported earlier on Thursday that Kuala Lumpur would not welcome U.S. or any third party involvement in resolving the Spratly issue, preferring it to be settled within the region.

Philippine Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado said on Tuesday Manila supported the United States initiative, describing it as a chance for Washington to "play the role of honest broker."

Tensions flared in the area late last year when the Philippines accused China of setting up military structures on a reef claimed by Manila. Beijing has said the structures are shelters for fishermen which both sides can use.

China also opposed multilateral talks, calling instead for bilateral discussions among claimants.

Members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed a declaration in 1992, pledging to avoid acts that would disturb peace in the Spratlys, which diplomats have described as a potential regional flashpoint. ( (c) 1998 Reuters)

Fri., Dec. 18, 1998 at: Lon 3:41 p.m. Pra 4:41 p.m. NY 10:41 a.m. HK 10:41 p.m.

China, Vietnam Reaffirm Border Dispute Resolution by 2000

HANOI, Dec. 18, 1998 -- (Agence France Presse) Vice President Hu Jintao has reaffirmed China's promise to settle land and sea border disputes with Vietnam by 2000, official reports said on Friday.

The agreement however did not include disputes over sovereignty of the Spratly and Paracel islands, two potential flashpoints in the South China Sea.

The Vietnam News said Hu on Thursday met Vietnamese Politburo member Pham The Duyet and Vice President Nguyen Thi Binh.

It said they agreed to try to finalise a treaty on the land border by end-1999 and of the sea border by 2000.

In 1997 during an official visit to Beijing, then-Communist Party General Secretary Do Muoi and Chinese President Jiang Zemin pledged to solve disputes by 2000.

During an ASEAN leaders' meeting with Hu in Hanoi on Wednesday, Philippine President Joseph Estrada raised his concern over Chinese installations on the Spratlys.

China has avoided discussing the Spratlys and other maritime disputes with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, saying overlapping claims were bilateral issues.

The Spratlys are believed to sit on vast mineral resources and are claimed wholly or partially by the Philippines and China as well as Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Vietnam and China have clashed twice over the Spratly Islands, in 1988 and 1992. ( (c) 1998 Agence France Presse)

Vietnam Supports UN Convention on Sea Law

Addressing at the plenary session of the 53rd UN General Assembly on item 38 : "Issues of Ocean and Sea Law", Vietnam’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, Mr. Pham Quang Vinh highlighted the importance of the UN Convention on 1982 Sea Law.
He stressed that the Convention is served as a basic legal frame to be used to solve problems relating to sea issues, to adjust relations among the subjects in International Law concerning the exploration, exploitation, and protection of sea territories, continental shelf, sea beds, and natural resources in these areas. All nations are held obligatory to observe all the stipulations of the Convention in which there are obligations to respect national sovereignty, rights of sovereignty, and rights of judgement to continental shelf, and exclusive economic zones.
Fri., Nov. 13, 1998 at: Lon 5:58 p.m. Pra 6:58 p.m. NY 12:58 p.m. HK 12:58 a.m.

Vietnam Expresses Concern over Spratly Islands Dispute
Reclaims entire island chain
HANOI, Nov. 13, 1998 -- (Reuters) Vietnam expressed deep concern on Thursday over raised tension in the disputed Spratly Islands and reiterated its claim to the entire area.
The Philippines and China traded verbal barbs this week after Manila accused Beijing of building potential harbors for military use on a reef claimed by Manila in the South China Sea.
"Vietnam expresses deep concern over complicated actions around Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh said in a statement.
"This is not good for stability and cooperation in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific."
China has rejected protests from the Philippines and said the Chinese occupying Mischief Reef were repairing fishermen's shelters damaged by nature.
Thanh urged all parties -- whom she did not name -- to avoid using force or threats to use force while waiting for a long-term peaceful solution to the disputed islands which are potentially rich in oil and gas.
The Spratlys are claimed wholly or in part by Vietnam, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.
Thanh also repeated Hanoi's claim to complete sovereignty over the Spratlys and another archipelago -- the Paracels -- which China seized from the former South Vietnam in 1974, a year before the end of the Vietnam War.
"On one hand Vietnam confirms its inarguable sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands," she said.
"But on the other Vietnam insists in its policy of reaching a basic and long-term solution for disputes in this area through peaceful negotiations."

 (c) 1998 Reuters)