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Buddhist leader Thich Quang Do denounces China’s violations of Vietnamese territorial waters

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PARIS, 12.05.2014 (IBIB) – The International Buddhist Information Bureau has received an urgent communication from the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, Supreme Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), sent clandestinely from the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery where he is under de facto house arrest. Deeply disturbed by China’s recent deployment of a giant oil rig off the coast of central Vietnam, the UBCV leader and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize nominee calls on China to cease violations of Vietnamese sovereignty, and urges the Vietnamese government and the Communist Party to embark on a process of democratization to enable its citizens to participate equally in the defense of their homeland.

For Thich Quang Do, 86, this is just the last in a series of increasingly brazen violations of Vietnamese sovereignty by its northern neighbour. Thich Quang Do was amongst the first to alert international opinion to the grave dangers of Chinese influence in Vietnam, from the environmental and security threats caused by the influx of thousands of Chinese workers to mine bauxite in the Central highlands in 2007; Hanoi’s 50-year leasing to China of forest regions along the northern Vietnamese borders; the capture and killings of Vietnamese fishermen and Beijing’s establishment of “Sansha City” on a Paracels islet as its administrative and military centre in the South China seas in 2012.

In this Declaration, launched on behalf of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Thich Quang Do also appeals to Buddhists in China to demonstrate solidarity with the Vietnamese people by pressing Beijing to “acknowledge that all men are brothers, and to change its expansionist policies for an engagement with Vietnam which is mutually reinforcing, interdependent and based on understanding and mutual respect”.

by the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam
on Chinese encroachment on Vietnamese territorial waters

In early May 2014, China moved a giant deep sea drill ship, the Haiyang 981, from the north west of Triton Island in the Paracel Islands into Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. It has now laid anchor just 120 nautical miles off the Vietnamese coast, in violation of Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. Scores of Chinese vessels have been deployed to protect the Haiyang 981 including navy warships such as missile-carrying Giang Ho II and high speed 534 patrol ships, and dozens of Chinese military planes are patrolling the skies above. Chinese ships have rammed Vietnamese sea guard vessels, causing extensive injuries and damage.

This is a brazen and deliberate violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty, an encroachment on its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, and a withdrawal from the agreement on the conduct of parties in the East Sea (DOC) (1) signed between China and ASEAN.

Alarmed by these grave threats to our country and moved by the deep outrage of Vietnamese people at home and abroad, the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam convened an urgent meeting and adopted the following three-point declaration:

1. We call upon the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Communist Party to take the example of our fore-fathers from the Dinh, early Le, Ly, Tran and later Le dynasties by adopting resolute measures to protect our nation’s sovereignty. In the modern political perspective, this should include robust foreign and domestic policy options such as:

a/ Foreign policy: Vietnam should immediately bring the issue of China’s violations before the United Nations under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea;

– Vietnam should call upon all nations of ASEAN to demand multilateral discussions to solve East Sea disputes rather than the bilateral discussions demanded by China; and urge ASEAN nations to stand together and form a regional consensus to withstand Beijing’s encroachments on their maritime jurisdictions.

b/ Domestic policy: Vietnam must abolish Article 4 of the Constitution [on the political mastery of the Communist Party] so that all Vietnamese, including non-communist political parties and religious communities, may take part on an equal footing in the movement to stem foreign aggression and protect national integrity;

The Vietnamese government and Communist Party cannot persist in obeying the deceptive orders of their Chinese Communist overlords to “set aside differences and reap the benefits [of the East Seas] together” following China’s motto of “16 golden words and 4 rules of good relationship”. You cannot, in the name of the “great cause” of communism and your commitment to the “high level strategy of [communist] globalization” (2), let the Chinese Communists eat away the sovereign territories and waters of Vietnam.

2. We call upon all Vietnamese, at home and abroad, from all political and religious families, to rally together urgently to form an “Alliance against Chinese aggression” to oppose the China-launched “Alliance for Territorial Integrity” (3). At the same time, we should join together in a broad-based movement for the democratization of Vietnam. Democracy is the key to our country’s development, and the only way to deliver Vietnam from the political enslavement of our current government. Without the safeguards of democratic institutions and a multi-party system, we can never fully enjoy human rights, happiness and peace, nor bring stable development and prosperity to the people of Vietnam.

3. As Buddhists, we call upon Buddhist monks, nuns and lay-Buddhists in China to support the people of Vietnam. Buddha’s teachings of compassion, tolerance, and the commitment to deliver all beings from suffering have inspired the peoples of both China and Vietnam for more than 2,000 years. We urge you press the Beijing government to acknowledge that all men are brothers, and to change its expansionist policies for an engagement with Vietnam which is mutually reinforcing, interdependent and based on understanding and mutual respect.

As responsible Vietnamese citizens, and in the capacity of a great religious movement that has contributed to our country’s development over the past two millennia, the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam cannot stand idle whilst our nation is in danger. We earnestly call upon the Vietnamese intelligentsia and people inside and outside the country to rally together to save our homeland.

Thanh Minh Zen Monastery, Saigon 10 May 2014
Supreme Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam
(signature and seal)
Sramana Thich Quang Do

(1) In 2002, China and ASEAN nations meeting in Cambodia signed the “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea” (DOC), in preparation for the 8-point “Code of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea” (COC) signed between China and ASEAN in Bali on 19-23 July 2011.

(2) When Vietnamese Communist party Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong visited China from 11-15 October 2011, he signed a joint declaration with Chinese CP Secretary-general and President Hu Jintao on the “Basic principles guiding the settlement of sea issues” in which they invoked the bonds of Sino-Vietnamese Communism to justify Vietnam’s silence on China’s claims to Vietnamese waters and lands. By urging Vietnam to “set aside differences and reap the benefits [of the East Seas] together”, the Chinese Communist Party basically ordered Vietnam to step down before Chinese expansionism.

(3) The aim of the “Alliance for Territorial Integrity” set up by China is to “build a Great Wall of China on the ocean and build up China’s military capacities so it may become the undisputed champion of the East seas”. What could its objective be, other than the invasion and conquest of the waters and the islands in the East Sea? In brief, the Alliance aims to re-draw the map of China in the form of the letter “Y” (i.e. including Southeast Asia), instead of the form of a chicken as it is today.

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