Vietnam has defended the passage of a maritime law claiming sovereignty over contested islands in the South China Sea after criticism from China.
The adoption of the Law on the Sea by the National Assembly on Thursday was “a normal law-making activity”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi said in a statement on Friday.
The law includes a controversial passage in which Vietnam claims sovereignty and jurisdiction over the Paracel and Spratly Islands and Macclesfield Bank.
Beijing issued a statement saying the law was “a serious violation of China’s territorial sovereignty”.
Nghi said Vietnam rejected China’s “unreasonable accusations”.
“More seriously, China has approved the establishment of Tam Sa (Sansha) City which is to manage an area including the Paracel islands and the Spratly islands,” he said.
China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, which straddles key shipping lanes in the region and is believed to be rich in resources.
The Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims in the sea.
China seized the Paracel islands from Vietnam in 1974.