The app refers to Hoang Sa, known internationally as Paracel Islands, as "Sansha."

Le Quang Tu Do, deputy head of the Broadcasting and Electronic Information Authority under the Ministry of Information and Communications, said the decision was made after the agency was unable to get the app correct the name of the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands.

Do said his agency had attempted to contact managers of Windy.com to request that the archipelago's name be corrected, but were unable to identify the site's owners or find their contact information.

"We have found that this weather forecast website has an international domain name, is hosted on an overseas server, and does not have a legal status in Vietnam so cannot be handled in accordance with domestic law," Do said.

The information ministry will, therefore, take technical measures to restrict Vietnamese users from accessing Windy.com, as well as other websites containing inaccurate information about Vietnam’s sovereignty.

Do also called on the public to only use websites and applications that use official maps without wrong information on Vietnam's sovereignty.

As of Saturday morning, the website Windy.com and its mobile application referred to Hoang Sa as "Sansha," or "Tam Sa" if the language is set to Vietnamese.

Windy is a popular app with over five million downloads by Android users. Following the naming controversy, many Vietnamese users have reacted by giving it a single star on Google Play.

Information authorities in the central province of Khanh Hoa had earlier this month reported on this issue to the ministry's Broadcasting and Electronic Information Authority, asking for guidance on how to handle Windy.

China seized the Hoang Sa Islands from South Vietnam by force in 1974, and has since been illegally occupying the islands.

In 2012 it established the so-called Sansha City with Woody Island as its seat.

The "city" also covers a number of reefs in Vietnam's Truong Sa Archipelago Spratly Islands that China seized by force in 1988 and the Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by the Philippines.

By Viet Tuan - VnExpress.net - November 24, 2018