Vietnam wary of China's possible weapons use

Vietnam's foreign ministry has expressed concern about legislation drafted by China that would allow Beijing's coast guard to use weapons in waters it considers to be under its jurisdiction.

A deputy spokesperson for Vietnam's foreign ministry spoke at a news conference on Thursday.

The official mentioned the names of the islands in the South China Sea that are claimed by the two countries. The spokesperson said Vietnam's claims to the areas are based on historical grounds.

The official added Vietnam supports the position that all disputes must be peacefully resolved in accordance with international law.

The draft legislation was released by China's National People's Congress on Wednesday. It would allow China's coast guard to use arms in waters China considers to be under its jurisdiction, if foreign ships conduct operations there that Beijing deems to be illegal, and if the foreign vessels defy orders to stop.

The draft also calls for measures to safeguard artificial islands and facilities. The provision is believed to be referring to islands China has been militarizing in the South China Sea.

In April, a Vietnamese fishing boat sank near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Vietnam says the ship was rammed and sunk by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel. China says the boat was fishing illegally in the area and refused to leave.

Also in April, Vietnam lodged a protest against China's announcement that it had established two new administrative districts in the South China Sea. One district is on the Paracel Islands. The other is on the Spratly Islands.

Vietnam is also concerned about China's military exercises in the South China Sea.

Vietnam has been stepping up cooperation with the international community on the issue of the South China Sea. The country is expected to discuss the matter at a series of ASEAN summit meetings that will start next Thursday.