Vietnam lodged a formal protest with China and the United Nations chief on Friday, saying it was “deeply concerned” over Beijing’s apparent deployment of an advanced surface-to-air missile system on a disputed island in the South China Sea.
“These are serious infringements of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracels, threatening peace and stability in the region as well as security, safety and freedom of navigation and flight,” foreign ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said.
His statement said diplomatic notes had been issued to China’s embassy in Hanoi and to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to protest Beijing’s activities.
Taiwan and U.S. officials said on Wednesday the missile system had been deployed to Woody island, which is part of the China-controlled Paracel chain that Vietnam and Taiwan also claim sovereignty over.
At a summit of Southeast Asian leaders in California on Monday, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung suggested to U.S. President Barack Obama that Washington take “more efficient actions” against militarization and island-building in the South China Sea.
On Feb. 17, Vietnamese activists chanted anti-China slogans in Hanoi as they marked the 37th anniversary of a border war with their giant neighbor, in a memorial that followed reports that Beijing has installed missile systems in contested seas.
Security officials stood by as veterans chanted “down with China, down with China’s invasion.”
The short but bloody war came after Vietnam toppled the Beijing-backed Khmer Rouge regime in neighbouring Cambodia.
It claimed tens of thousands of lives and ended with Chinese forces withdrawing but both powers claiming victory.