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Sunday, November 26, 2017, 12:45 (GMT+7)
A glimpse of current sovereignty disputes in the East Sea

It is thought that in the face of the exhaustion of natural resources on land, seas and oceans, including the East Sea, are regarded as the last reserve of food, energy and material of the human race. The East Sea is rich in natural resources but contains complicated and enduring sea, island sovereignty disputes.

Vietnam is located on the West bank of the East Sea, possessing a coastline of 3,260 km, territorial sea of over 1 million km2, and more than 3,000 islands, including the Paracels and the Spratlys as its outpost next to regional countries’ waters. Thus, around those archipelagos, particularly around the Spratlys, there have existed complex sovereignty disputes among parties for ages. However, grounded in principles of international law and practice related to territorial acquisition, Vietnam has indisputable sovereignty over the Paracels and the Spratlys. Noticeably, according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS 1982), Vietnam has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over seas and continental shelf, including the Paracels and the Spratlys.

However, for various reasons, a number of countries and territories have had disputes with Vietnam over the Paracels and the Spratlys. Besides, differences in explanation and adoption of the UNCLOS 1982 from the countries surrounding the East Sea have led to overlapping seas and continental shelves. To sum up, there exist two main types of sea and island sovereignty dispute in the East Sea now.

1. Sovereignty dispute over the Paracels and the Spratlys which belong to Vietnam.

2. Dispute about the establishment of the boundary of overlapping seas and continental shelves between the countries having seas that are adjacent to or surround the East Sea.

Those are bilateral or multilateral long-lasting, complicated disputes that tend to be on the increase and potentially threaten peace and stability of the region and the world. Vietnam asserts that those disputes must be settled by peaceful means, on the basis of international law, particularly the UNCLOS 1982, and under the proper road map with the joint effort of the international community. While awaiting a fair, objective solution, the international community believe that parties should restrain themselves, maintain the status quo, not use or threaten to use force , and avoid further complicating disputes to maintain peace and stability in the region and the world.

By Khanh An

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