Vietnam Protests Chinese Tours to Spratly Islands

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Mar. 13 – Vietnam is protesting against China’s decision to allow Hainan’s Zhou Jiang International Tourism to open a tour to Phu Lam Island in Hoang Sa or the Paracel archipelago.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dung told Vietnam News: "This act seriously infringes upon Vietnam’s territorial sovereignty and is unbeneficial to bilateral negotiation to seek a fundamental and durable solution to the sea issues between the two parties."

Vietnam has laid sovereign claims over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes on the basis historical and legal grounds.

Le Dung also protested to Philippine President Gloria Arroyo’s new baseline law which includes the islands of the Truong Sa archipelago as part of Philippine territory.

He said: "This act seriously infringes upon Viet Nam’s sovereignty over the Truong Sa archipelago and complicates the situation, going against the spirit of the Declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, as well as the regional cooperation trend."

"Viet Nam protests against the act and calls on the Philippines to refrain from undertaking similar actions so as not to affect peace and stability in the region and the growing ties between the two countries."

The Paracel and Spratly islands have long been a territorial issue of dispute for China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. The spokesman said that activities in the islands undertaken without Vietnam’s approval will be seen as a violation of its sovereignty.