MANILA: Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said his government was considering various “defence options” against China, including legal action, following the deployment of a Chinese oil rig to waters in the South China Sea that Hanoi also claims.
Dung’s comments, given in a written response to questions, were the first time he has suggested Vietnam would take legal measures, and drew an angry response from China, which insisted the rig was in its sovereign waters.
“Vietnam is considering various defence options, including legal actions in accordance with international law,” Dung said in an email sent late on Wednesday, while on a visit to Manila. He did not elaborate on the other options being considered.
“I wish to underscore that Vietnam will resolutely defend its sovereignty and legitimate interests because territorial sovereignty, including sovereignty of its maritime zones and islands, is sacred,” he said.
China accused Vietnam of stoking regional tensions.
“Now they are distorting the facts, conflating right and wrong on the global stage, blackening China and making unreasonable accusations against China,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing.
In March, the Philippines submitted a case to an arbitration tribunal in The Hague, challenging China’s claims to the South China Sea. It was the first time Beijing has been subjected to international legal scrutiny over the waters.
Beijing has refused to participate in the case and warned Manila that its submission would seriously damage ties.