Field management in Bu Prang: Current situations and Recommendations

After the unification of the country, Bu Prang was under the management of Vietnam. However, due to the differences and shortcomings of old documents, Vietnam and Cambodia still need a dialogue in the spirit of goodwill and compliance with international law and practices.
September 01, 2020 | 13:46
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A hotspot frequently attacked by the Khmer Rouge

According to reports on administrative management for the Bu Prang area, this area had coffee and rubber plantations since the French colonial. After 1954, the Republic of Vietnam government built up fortress Truong Tan Buu (belonging to Tuy Duc province). In the period from 1956 to 1958 (before Cambodia's first opinion stating on Bup'rang in 1959), the government of the Republic of Vietnam had documents on the administrative organization and boundaries of provinces relating to Bu Prang areas, such as Thu Dau Mot and Tuy Duc. However, no French documents were found showing administrative management of the Bu Prang area.

After the unification of the country, Vietnam continues to steadily and continuously manage the Bu Prang area along the borderline of the northern branch of Dak Dang.

In 1976, Dak Lak province was established on the basis of the merger of the two provinces of Quang Duc and Gia Nghia, Bu Prang region of Dak Lak province. The whole province of Dak Lak has 9 armed police stations, which is currently called the Border Guard, only the Bu Prang area has two management posts, namely posts 7 and 8.

After gaining control in Cambodia on April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge began to implement a policy of genocide in the country, at the same time advocating the implementation of a policy of hostility towards Vietnam. They began to conduct activities to provoke and attack Vietnam on the entire southwestern borderline, including the Bu Prang area. In this area, the Khmer Rouge regularly allowed soldiers to infiltrate the Vietnamese territory in the Dak Dang and Dak Huyt streams.

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On December 26, 2015, in Tinh Bien district (An Giang), Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (right) and Royal Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (left) presided over the Inauguration Ceremony of Landmark 275 on the land border between Vietnam and Cambodia. (Photo: Trong Duc - VNA)

Vietnam has expressed a resolute opposition to Cambodia's border intrusion and clearly affirmed that the borderline passing through this area runs along the Dak Dang stream. Vietnam has rejected Cambodia's border claim according to the maps edited by Sihanouk, which Cambodia put forward, upholding the view of resolutely fighting to protect the borderline as the French map printed before 1954. The No. 8 armed police station, which decided to move up and stationed 15 meters from the bank of Dak Dang stream, demonstrated Vietnam's determination to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Vietnam.

The Bu Prang area has become a typical area in the process of defending the southwestern border in terms of military and diplomatic struggles.

Recommendations on future solution

Based on the above situation, basically, the content that the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Hai Binh answered at the press conference on November 2, 2015: "... Regarding the border area of ​​Dak Dam in Dak Nong province (Vietnam) bordering Mondulkiri province, Vietnam has full legal, historical and practical management to confirm that this area is always under the full and complete sovereignty of Vietnam” has its legal basis and management practice.

However, in order to solve the root of the problem, perhaps it is also necessary to consider the fact that: although Vietnam has the advantage of legal documents and management practices to prove that the Bu Prang area belongs to Vietnamese territory, there are still shortcomings in that legal document, which is not completely clear, leading to the fact that the Cambodian side still tries to use it to protect its views. Therefore, on October 10, 2005, Vietnam and Cambodia signed the "Treaty between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Republic of Cambodia supplementing the 1985 Treaty on National Border Planning", in which, Clause 2, Article 1, stated clearly: "As for the contiguous area between Quang Truc commune ... and Dak Dam commune ..., the two sides signed to agree to continue exchanging opinions." If approached truly objective and market-oriented, the Bu Prang area can still be considered as an area with different perceptions of the direction of the borderline.

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The Command of the Border Guard of Dak Nong province presented supplies and medical equipment for Covid-19 epidemic prevention and control to Mondulkiri province, Kingdom of Cambodia.

While there has not been a consensus on the direction of the borderline in this area, the two sides should work together to do the following:

- Continue to collect maps, diagrams together with legal documents related to the description of the direction of the border in this area remaining unfound, which leads to the situation where each side has different applicable explanations. If in the end, they could not find it, they should agree to settle down the problem according to a number of principles of International Law and Practice, ensuring the principle of fairness and reasonable for the benefit of both parties.

- Maintain the status quo of management in practice and do not conduct one-way propaganda, inciting public opinion, affecting the demarcation work in the final stage.

- Working together to apply a temporary practical solution, not allowing opposing political forces to take advantage of causing a riot, hindering the relationship between the two countries, undermining the results of the resolution process that two sides have been achieved so far.

- There should be a government-level mechanism to exchange information and have the authority to promptly process field presentations, to control and limit all activities that could change the status quo, to create an excuse for the opposing forces use them to serve their dark political motives.

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Dr Tran Cong Truc (Translated by Valerie Mai)
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