Vietnam’s 13th National Assembly session wrapped up its third meeting Thursday, passing the Vietnam Sea Law that defines the country’s water territories and its sovereignty over them.
The new law, which garnered 495 votes of the 496 deputies present, with one abstention, will take effect next year.
The law has seven chapters with 55 articles that identify Vietnam’s basic water boundaries, territory, border areas, exclusive economic zones, as well as Vietnam’s ownership of the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) islands.
The law mentions defense policies for Vietnam’s waters and islands, its environment and resources, Vietnamese activities in the water, typically fishing, in compliance with international charters and treaties that the country is signatory to.
It requires more investment into training and equipping naval police and patrol forces and asks the government to design more preferential policies for island communities.
It sets marine economy development priority for four major areas – search and exploitation of oil, gas and other minerals; shipbuilding and shipping services; sea tourism; fishing and breeding of seafood.
It calls for technologies to be developed and staff trained through several avenues including international cooperation in oceanographic research; climate change adaptation and natural disaster prevention; search and rescue operations; prevention of sea pollution including dealing with oil spills; fighting naval crimes; and the maintenance of resources to promote sea tourism.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi said in a statement Thursday that “Vietnam’s passing of the Sea Law is a normal activity to complete the country’s legal system and to serve the use and protection of its sea and islands for better economic development and global integration.”
Nghi said it’s “regretful” that China has made “unreasonable criticism” against Vietnam’s “rightful” move.
An even more serious reaction, Nghi said, was that China has recently drawn up plans to establish a Sansha city in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagoes.
“Vietnam is determined to object the establishment,” he said.
Vietnam has enough legal and historical evidence to announce its sovereignty over the islands, and the new law is just another step to do that.
“Vietnam’s constant policy is to solve the East Sea conflicts peacefully,” Nghi said .
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