Vietnam might pursue legal action over South China Sea dispute
Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung said Hanoi preferred negotiations with Beijing to settle the South China Sea dispute but noted that Vietnam also has other options.
Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Released

Vietnam might pursue legal action over South China Sea dispute

(Philstar.com) - November 7, 2019 - 4:57pm

MANILA, Philippines — Amid rising tensions with China, Vietnam is considering pursuing legal action over the maritime dispute in the South China Sea.

Earlier this year, the two countries were involved in a standoff after China deployed coast guard vessels and survey ships at Vanguard Bank.

Beijing called on Hanoi to respect its claims on the region while the latter asked China to immediately withdraw its ship.

While Hanoi prefers negotiations to settle the maritime dispute, Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung said the country has other options, according to a Reuters report.

"We know that these measures include fact-finding, mediation, conciliation, negotiation, arbitration and litigation measures," Trung said at a South China Sea forum in Hanoi.

Trung told the forum that maintaining peace and stability, as well promoting cooperation in the South China Sea are also interests of the international community.

"The UN Charter and [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] 1982 have sufficient mechanisms for us to apply those measures," he said.

2016 Hague ruling

In July 2016, the UN-backed arbitral tribunal issued a landmark ruling in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China's nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, including the South China Sea.

More than three years since the arbitral ruling was announced, Beijing continues to ignore the arbitration and insists indisputable sovereignty over the region.

The Philippines, under the Duterte administration, also set aside the ruling in exchange of seeking stronger ties with China.

President Rodrigo Duterte said he would invoke the arbitral ruling with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their last meeting in August. The two leaders, however, agreed to continue dialogue and work on a code of conduct on the disputed sea.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte and Xi agreed to disagree but their opposing views on the issue should not "be a reason for them not to talk and continue with the dialogue to peacefully resolve the conflict." — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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