The foreign ministry of Vietnam has condemned China for violating Vietnam’s sovereignty by imposing a unilateral fishing ban in the South China Sea.
China’s agriculture ministry announced the ban on Wednesday, which it said would apply to both Chinese as well as foreign vessels, warning violators would be detained and fined by Chinese authorities. Vietnam calls the waters the East Sea.
The ban is for three and a half months and covers the area between China’s Fujian and Guangdong provinces, which includes Vietnam’s Paracel Islands, parts of the Gulf of Tonkin and the Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by the Philippines.
“Vietnam opposes and resolutely rejects China’s unilateral fishing ban decision,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said on Saturday.
The ban violates Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands and its legitimate rights and interests in its waters, as well as international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
It also goes against the spirit and text of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) between ASEAN and China, and violates the Vietnam-China Agreement on the Basic Principles Guiding the Resolution of Maritime Issues, she said.
Vietnam has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands, as well as its legal rights over its waters in accordance with UNCLOS, she said.
China has been issuing similar fishing bans every year in recent times and Vietnam has always condemned them.
China had seized the Paracel Islands from what was then South Vietnam by force in 1974, and has since been illegally occupying them.
In 2012 it established the so-called Sansha City with the archipelago’s Woody Island as its seat.
The “city” also covers a number of reefs in the Spratly Islands that China seized by force in 1988 and the Scarborough Shoal.