Chinese ships crash into Vietnamese vessels amid offshore rig dispute
Vietnamese government claims that China has deployed as many as 80 ships, including seven military vessels, and even aircraft to the area in the South China Sea where CNOOC has deployed its semi-submersible drilling rig HD-981. Vietnam said that the move by the Chinese oil company was illegal.
The information was released by Rear Admiral Ngo Ngoc Thu, vice commander of the Vietnam Marine Police at the international press conference in Ha Noi on Wednesday afternoon.
He said that Chinese ships deliberately crashed into and caused damage to the vessels of the Vietnamese marine police and fisheries surveillance force in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
The Rear Admiral also showed footage provided by the Vietnamese fisheries surveillance force of a Vietnamese boat being besieged by Chinese ships during a clash. Thu said six Vietnamese people have been injured.
Below is the footage of what appears to be a Chinese ship ramming into a Vietnamese vessel, as shared by the Wall Street Journal on their YouTube channel:
Vietnam claims that China has breached Vietnamese international waters, while China refutes allegations and claims the area belongs to the Chinese continental shelf.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a statement yesterday: “As far as I have learned, the Maritime Safety Administration of China issued a navigation notice on May 3 related to China’s 981 drilling rig. Relevant drilling work is totally within waters off China’s Xisha islands.”
Spokesperson of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Hai Binh said that China’s acts violate Vietnam’s sovereignty and jurisdiction over the Southeast Asian country’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf as stipulated in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Earlier on May 6, Deputy PM, FM Pham Binh Minh made a phone call to Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi to express his objection after China deployed the drilling rig and vessels in the oil and gas lot 143, for which Vietnam claims belongs to the Vietnamese continental shelf.
Oil company to oil company
On 4th May 2014, Vietnamese oil company PetroVietnam has sent a letter to the President and CEO of CNOOC strongly opposing the action and resolutely demanding that the Chinese cease “the illegal actions immediately and move the HD-981 drilling rig out of Vietnam’s waters.”
“The above action of CNOOC was against the cooperative spirit between the two national oil and gas groups, practice of international oil activities as well as the motto of friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and China. PetroVietnam requested CNOOC not to recur similar actions,” Petrovietnam said in a statement.