VietNamNet Bridge, Aug 4, 2011. General Phung Quang Thanh told the media on August 3, after he was re-elected as the Defense Minister, that Vietnam will have a submarine brigade in five to six years to defend the country. The brigade will consist of six Kilo 636-class subs, he said.
Q. There are different viewpoints on settling disputes in the East Sea. Some only want to solve the disputes bilaterally, but some want to solve them multilaterally. What is your standpoint?
When I met with naval commanders of ASEAN countries, I told them Vietnam’s viewpoint very clearly. Bilateral disputes will be solved bilaterally. For example, Vietnam and China have disputes over Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago and the two sides are discussing on demarcation of the Tonkin Gulf’s entrance. These issues will be negotiated bilaterally between Vietnam and China, under international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS).
Multilateral disputes like the disputes over the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago, which involve Vietnam, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei.., must be solved by involved parties. China’s nine-dot line in the East Sea harms sovereignty of many countries, so it must be solved multilaterally.
ASEAN countries have the same voice. The fifth ASEAN Defense Ministerial Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, released a joint declaration: disputes in the East Sea must be solved by peaceful measures based on international law, the UNCLOS under the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC). Peaceful settlement is negotiation through diplomatic channels between ASEAN and China, not between China with each ASEAN state member.