In response to a reporter’s question about Vietnam’s position regarding Chinese ships operating at the Bai Ba Dau (Whitsun Reef) in Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago.
At a regular press conference of the ministry on March 25, the spokesperson stressed that Vietnam has sufficient legal grounds and historical evidence to affirm its sovereignty over Truong Sa in accordance with international law.
She went on to say that as a coastal country and a member of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Vietnam is entitled to sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over waters established in accordance with the UNCLOS.
“The operation of Chinese ships within the territorial waters of Sinh Ton Dong island in the Spratly has violated Vietnam’s sovereignty and the UNCLOS’s stipulation on the operation of foreign vessels in the territorial waters of coastal nations, ran counter to the spirit and content of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and complicated the situation which is unfavourable for the process of negotiations between the ASEAN and China on a Code of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (COC),” the spokesperson stressed.
Vietnam demands that China respect Vietnam’s sovereignty, implement the UNCLOS with good will, seriously comply with the DOC, especially the obligation of self-restraint so as to not complicate the situation and to create a favourable environment for the COC negotiation, thus contributing to the maintenance of peace, security, stability and legal order at sea in the region, Hằng said.
Citizen protection prioritised in Vietnam’s external policy: Spokesperson
Citizen protection is a priority in Vietnam's external policy in particular as well as in the policies of the country’s Party and State in general, according to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng.
She made the statement in reply to reporters' questions concerning measures to protect overseas Vietnamese in the context of discrimination against Asians in the US and some other countries.
“Representative agencies of Vietnam overseas and domestic authorities maintain close coordination to carry out citizen protection measures to ensure the safety and legitimate rights and interests of Vietnamese citizens abroad,” she stressed.
According to the spokesperson, the Vietnamese Government and related ministries and sectors have regularly requested other nations’ governments and competent agencies to ensure the safety of and create conditions for overseas Vietnamese to live, work, and study so that they could make practical contributions to socio-economic development in the host country and to the friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and countries worldwide.
Regarding reports on Indonesia’s recent detainment of two Vietnamese fishing vessels and their crewmembers from the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Hằng said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have received information on the case from competent agencies.
On March 18, the ships, coded BV4419TS and BL9333TS with 20 and 12 people onboard, respectively, were captured by Indonesian competent agencies while fishing in the area at the Vietnam – Indonesia boundary line at sea. Vietnamese maritime forces have requested the Indonesian side to release the fishermen and their vessels.
Hằng said right after receiving the report, the ministry has directed the Vietnamese Embassy in Indonesia to contact local competent agencies asking for verification and information related to the case. The embassy has also been directed to conduct citizen protection measures if necessary.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson comments on international issues
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng expressed Vietnam’s stance on a number of international issues at the ministry’s regular press conference on March 25.
Regarding the election of a provisional government in Libya, the spokesperson made it clear that Vietnam welcomed the election of the provisional government to lead the country towards an official election in December this year.
Vietnam calls on concerned parties to respect the ceasefire agreement signed in October 2020 and the timeline for the official election, she said.
Hằng noted that Vietnam supports and values the supporting role of the UN, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Libya, regional organisations and the international community in stabilizing the situation and seeking a long-term peaceful solution for the Libya issue.
Mentioning Myanmar, Hằng said Vietnam is ready to, together with other ASEAN member countries, discuss measures to help Myanmar overcome difficulties and early stabilize the situation in the country, thus contributing to building a peaceful, stable and prosperous ASEAN Community.
She added that proposals by ASEAN members will be considered in accordance with ASEAN’s principles and procedures.
Earlier, when speaking about the activities of the UN Security Council in April when Vietnam will serve as the council’s chair for the second time in its tenure, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Organisations Do Hung Viet said the council’s agenda does not include any event related to Myanmar.
He added that as the Myanmar issue had been on the council’s agenda before, we cannot exclude the possibility that some country will ask for a meeting on it. “As chair of the UNSC, Vietnam will handle such a request in accordance with procedures and working regulations of the UNSC,” Viet said.
The official also stressed the bridging role of Vietnam in international and regional efforts, in the hope that Myanmar will soon restore stability for national construction and development, thus continuing to contribute to peace and stability in the region and the building of the ASEAN Community.
As for the Iran issue, spokesperson Hằng affirmed that Vietnam supports the comprehensive ban of the development, testing, production, manufacturing, storage, transfer, use or threat of use of nuclear weapon.
“We supports efforts in this direction,” Hằng emphasized.
Vietnam looks to diversify sources of COVID-19 vaccines: FM spokesperson
Vietnam continues seeking and diversifying its COVID-19 vaccine sources by working with nations such as the US, India and China, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Lê Thị Thu Hằng said at a regular press conference held on March 25.
According to her, the work aims at increasing the rate of vaccine coverage among Vietnamese people.
Apart from imported vaccines, Vietnam is promoting the research and development of domestically produced vaccines, which are expected to put in use as early as 2022 to ensure the country’s supply, health security and response to the pandemic.
Currently, two Vietnamese candidate vaccines are under human trials in line with the Ministry of Health’s related process and regulations.
On February 26, the Government issued Resolution No 21/NQ-CP regarding COVID-19 vaccine purchase and use. It identifies nine priority groups in the COVID-19 vaccination plan, including people at the frontline of the fight against the epidemic; Vietnamese diplomats sent to foreign countries; customs personnel; teachers and others working at educational facilities; and people working at administrative agencies with regular contacts with a large number of people.
Hằng also cited data from the National Expanded Programme on Immunisation, which showed that as of March 21, over 35,000 Vietnamese had been vaccinated against COVID-19.