August 4, 2023
MANILA – Việt Nam on Thursday asked the Philippines’ authorities to strictly handle the case of a group of Filipino protesters tearing the Vietnamese national flag in front of the Vietnamese embassy in Manila.
The protests were staged following reports in the Philippines’ local media of Việt Nam’s alleged ‘militarisation’ in the South China Sea, which Việt Nam called the East Sea and the Philippines called the West Philippines Sea.
“The red flag with a yellow star is the sacred national flag of Việt Nam,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Phạm Thu Hằng told the press on Thursday in Hà Nội.
“The act of vandalising the Vietnamese national flag is an insult to the feelings of the Vietnamese people and must be severely condemned,” Hằng said.
“We request the Philippines’ side to strictly handle the case, taking effective measures to prevent this behaviour from occurring, which could affect the development of the Strategic Partnership between the two countries,” the diplomat said.
She also said the foreign ministry has no information on the source of the news articles, which the Philippines’ local media cited from an alleged document of the Vietnamese Ministry of Defence.
Việt Nam is enjoying thriving relations with the Philippines, as Việt Nam remains the only country in ASEAN (and one of the two countries in the world) with which the Philippines has a Strategic Partnership.
In this week’s trip to Việt Nam by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines Enrique Manalo, the two sides have agreed to bolster cooperation in maritime and ocean issues, as well as to improve coordination to handle arising issues at sea.
With regards to China’s military exercises in the South China Sea between July 29 and August 2 that overlaps with Việt Nam’s Hoàng Sa (Paracel) archipelago, spokesperson Hằng said the inclusion has “seriously infringed upon Việt Nam’s sovereignty over the islands.”
The act goes against the spirit of the Declarations of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), complicates the situation and is not conducive to the ongoing negotiations between Việt Nam and between China and the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (COC), and the maintenance of a peaceful, stable, and cooperative maritime environment.