Hanoi: Vietnamese lawmakers on Monday approved
a law to establish a marine militia to protect the communist
country`s maritime sovereignty, state media said.
The militia will "cooperate with border guards, navy, sea
police and other forces to protect national border security
and the sovereignty of Vietnam`s sea areas," according to the
draft text of the law obtained by a news agency.
Vietnam has a 3,200-kilometre coastline and wants to
fully develop the potential of its marine territory despite
long-standing disputes with neighbouring countries, especially
China, over sovereignty in the South China Sea.
China and Hanoi have a dispute over ownership of the
Paracel islands, which Beijing has administered since 1974
when it overran a South Vietnamese outpost shortly before the
end of the Vietnam War.
Separately, the potentially oil-rich Spratly island chain
is claimed entirely or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The marine militia will be set up "to protect our
fishermen... in interest and sovereignty, not to oppose
anyone" Le Quang Binh, chairman of the National Assembly`s
Defence and Security Committee, said in an earlier interview
with the VietnamNet online news site.
State media over the past few months have reported
incidents where Vietnamese fishermen were robbed or attacked
by "foreign vessels" while fishing in Vietnam`s territory.