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Spratlys > News > English News > April 2004 

Category: @News  @China

Vietnam condemns Taiwan
over Spratlys construction

Posted: 10:15 AM (Manila Time) | Apr. 01, 2004
Agence France-Presse

HANOI -- Vietnam warned Taiwan Wednesday that it would have to face the consequences of carrying out construction work on an island in the disputed Spratly archipelago as tension among the six claimants to the islands mounted.

"Vietnam vehemently condemns Taiwan's actions and demands an immediate end to such operations on Vietnam's Truong Sa archipelago," foreign ministry spokesman Le Dung said in comments carried by state media.

He warned the Taiwanese government that it would have to "bear responsibility for all the consequences caused by its actions."

"This is an act of land grabbing expansion that seriously violated Vietnam's territorial sovereignty, caused tension, threatened peace and stability and runs against the general trend in the region."

According to the ruling Communist Party's Nhan Dan newspaper, on March 23 a Taiwanese speedboat carrying eight people landed on the Ban Than Reef and erected a house on stilts.

The boat returned to the Taiwanese-controlled Ba Dinh Island but left the eight workers behind to continue further construction, it said.

Vietnam does not formally recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation, and maintains that it is part of mainland China.

In November Hanoi formally warned Taipei to stop violating its sovereignty by driving away Vietnamese fishing boats near the disputed South China Sea archipelago.

Straddling vital shipping lanes and believed to contain vast oil and gas reserves, the Spratlys are claimed by Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, China and Taiwan, and have long been a source of regional tension.

Over the past week the lingering dispute has flared up following Hanoi's announcement that it is planning tourist trips to the islands.

Duong Xuan Hoi, a spokesman for the Vietnam National Tourism Administration said Wednesday that 100 people have already signed up for the inaugural boat trip, which is due to leave Ho Chi Minh City on April 18 or 19.

The passengers will visit Da Tay island and the Truong Sa Lon island, which are both under Vietnamese control, he told AFP.

The foreign ministry has already asked Hanoi-based foreign correspondents to register their interest in visiting the islands.

However, China, which clashed with Vietnam in 1988 and 1992 over the Spratlys, reaffirmed its sovereignty over the islands last Thursday and warned the Vietnamese government against commencing the planned trips.

Beijing also called on Hanoi to respect a protocol signed in November 2002 by China and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to avoid any actions which may heighten tensions there.

But on the same day Vietnam reiterated its intention to send tourists to the islands and said it had every right to do so.

In an indication the emerging dispute could drag in even more countries in the area, the Philippines also said last week it would investigate Hanoi's moves to commence the boat trips.

Five of the claimants, including Vietnam, have military garrisons on islands and reefs in the chain. The precise number of Vietnamese personnel stationed there is a state secret.

source: http://www.inq7.net/brk/2004/apr/01/brkafp_1-1.htm