The Vietnamese government has objected to China’s alleged laying of undersea cables in the disputed Paracel Islands, saying it was a violation of Vietnamese sovereignty.
The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying that the country deployed a coastguard vessel into another contested island chain in the South China Sea, the Spratlys, in an apparent response to the presence of Chinese maritime militia around a Vietnamese outpost there.
When asked about a news report regarding a Chinese ship that was laying or repairing undersea cables near Chinese outposts in the Paracels, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said: “Vietnam has sufficient historical evidence and legal grounds affirming its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes in accordance with international law”.
“Therefore, any activity relating to the two archipelagoes conducted without Vietnam’s permission are violations of its sovereignty and of no value,” she added.
The report was based on commercial satellite imagery and vessel-tracking software, and was cited extensively by Vietnamese state media this week.
Meanwhile, US-based experts said the cable work suggested that China was installing an undersea surveillance system for its occupied features in the Paracels, further militarizing the region.
Vietnam and China both claim the Paracel Islands, a series of rocks and reefs in the north of the South China Sea.