We would like to inform you so that you may be clear that the Government of the DemocraticRepublic of Vietnam has noted and support the September 4, 1958 declaration by the People’sRepublic of China regarding territorial waters of China. The government of the Democratic Republicof Vietnam respects this decision and will direct the proper government agencies to respect absolutely the 12 nautical mile territorial waters of China in all dealings with the People’s Republic of China on the sea. We would like to send our sincere regards.
Analysis in Modern Journal:
The above declaration is not valid because before 1975, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) did not control these islands. At that time, these islands wereunder the control of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) who always assertedVietnamese sovereignty over these two archipelagos.
The Revolutionary Government of theRepublic of Vietnam also made no declaration that jeopardized this sovereignty.
According to thelawyer and author Monique Chemillier-Gendreau:
“In this context, declarations or any viewpoints given by the North Vietnamesegovernment is not effective when it comes to sovereignty. This was not a government that had authority over these archipelagos. One may not renounce what one has noauthority over….”
A second reason from a legal perspective is that at that time
North Vietnam was not a party inthe conflict.
Before 1975, the countries and territories involved in the conflict included: China, Taiwan, South Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Therefore, declarations made by North Vietnammay be seen as declarations of a third party
, which had no effect on the conflict itself.Supposing that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North) and the Republic of Vietnam (South)were one country, then based on international law, this declaration is also invalid. However, somehas espoused
the doctrine of “estoppel” i
n order to argue that this declaration has validity andVietnam cannot go back on its words.According to international law, there is no other legal bar that creates obligation for those who makeunilateral declaration other than “estoppel”.
Estoppel is a principle in which a country cannotsay or do in contrast to what was said or done before. I
n other words, “one cannot at thesame time blow hot and cold.” However, estoppel does not mean that a country is obligated towhatever it declares. The estoppel doctrine had its beginning in English law, and was later brought into international law. The main purpose is to prevent countries from benefitting from its dishonest actions, and hurtingother countries. Therefore,
estoppel must meet the following criteria:
1. The declaration or action must be taken by
a representative of a country in a clear andunequivocal manner
.2. The country that claims “estoppel” must prove that based on that
declaration or action, thereare actions or inactions being carried out by that country
which constitutes “reliance”, as is