China took its dispute with Vietnam over its deployment of an oil rig in contested waters to the United Nations on Monday, accusing Hanoi of infringing on its sovereignty and illegally disrupting a Chinese company's drilling operation.
China's deputy ambassador Wang Min sent a "position paper" on the rig's operation in the South China Sea to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday and asked the U.N. chief to circulate it to the 193 members of the General Assembly.
The documents included an article, released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Sunday and titled "The Operation of the HYSY 981 Drilling Rig: Vietnam's Provocation and China's Position", as well as annexed material that proves the Xisha Islands are part of Chinese territory.
"China sent the note to tell the international community the truth and set straight their understanding on the issue," Wang told reporters after delivering China's second note to the UN chief on Vietnam's provocative actions on the sea. The first note was sent to Ban on May 22.
He noted that the actions of the Vietnamese side, which illegally and forcefully disrupted the Chinese operation, were serious infringements upon China's sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, grave threats to the safety of Chinese personnel and the HYSY 981 drilling rig, and gross violations of the relevant international laws.
China sent the rig into disputed waters on May 1, provoking a confrontation with Vietnamese ships, complaints from Hanoi, and street protests that turned into bloody anti-Chinese riots. Hundreds of factories were damaged and China said in the paper that four Chinese citizens were "brutally killed" and over 300 injured.
Wang quoted the documents as saying that, prior to 1974, none of the successive Vietnamese governments had ever challenged China 's sovereignty over the Xisha Islands.
"Vietnam had officially recognized the Xisha Islands as part of China's territory since ancient times," he said. "This position was reflected in its government statements and notes as well as its newspapers, maps and textbooks."
But now, Wang noted, the Vietnamese government goes back on its word by making territorial claims over China's Xisha Islands, which is a gross violation of the principles of international law, including the principle of estoppel, and the basic norms governing international relations.