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6 Vietnamese fisheries surveillance staff injured in confrontation with Chinese ships

A Vietnamese boat is blasted with water cannons from a Chinese ship (R)   in Vietnam's waters in the East Sea
A Vietnamese boat is blasted with water cannons from a Chinese ship (R) 
in Vietnam's waters in the East Sea
Several boats have been damaged and six Vietnamese fisheries surveillance force members injured during attacks by Chinese ships that are encroaching on Vietnam’s waters in the East Sea to escort a giant Chinese oil rig that has illegally operated there since early May, a senior Vietnamese official said Wednesday.

>> Vietnam demands China remove oil rig from Vietnamese waters
>> Vietnam protests China’s illegal operation of drilling rig in Vietnamese waters
>> Chinese vessels deliberately ram Vietnam's ships in Vietnamese waters: officials 

Colonel Ngo Ngoc Thu, Vice Commander and Chief of Staff of Vietnam’s Coast Guard, released this information at an international press conference held in Hanoi regarding the fact that China’s oil rig HD 981 has illicitly entered and operated in Vietnamese waters in the East Sea since May 1.

Vietnamese authorities discovered the drilling platform was being deployed to their seas earlier the same day, Tran Duy Hai, vice head of a national border committee, said at the conference.

Many of the 80 vessels deployed by China to guard the rig rammed Vietnam’s ships three times when they were requested by the Vietnamese side to leave the waters, Thu said.

The collisions occurred on May 3, 4, and 7, during which several Vietnamese ships were damaged and six fisheries surveillance staff on board were wounded when hit by pieces of broken glass during the attacks, the vice commander said.

Thu also showed the press conference footage provided by the Vietnamese fisheries surveillance force of a Vietnamese boat besieged by five Chinese ships during a clash.

Video of Vietnam-China ship confrontation
Video of Vietnam-China ship confrontation Speaking with Tuoi Tre on Wednesday night, Colonel Thu said, “The Vietnamese Coast Guard and other law enforcement forces at sea have been, and will be, ready to continue their operations in Vietnamese waters to the best of their ability.”

He also extended thanks to the public for their concern and encouragement for the Coast Guard’s activities over the past days.

“I hope that no more fisheries surveillance staff will be injured in the future,” the official said.

Meanwhile, Rear Admiral Ngo Si Quyet, Commander of Naval Zone 3, told Tuoi Tre that the six injured fisheries surveillance staff have basically recovered from their wounds.

Earlier on May 3, the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration released a navigational warning on its website, saying that China’s drilling rig HD 981 was operating in a location of 15°29’58’’ North latitude and 111°12’06’’ East longitude in the East Sea and will continue to operate until August 15.

The announced location of the drilling rig is completely within the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam, about 119 nautical miles (221 km) from Ly Son Island off the central Vietnamese province of Quang Ngai and 18 nautical miles south of Tri Ton Island of Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, according to Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Le Hai Binh.

No concession

Despite the attacks, the Vietnamese Coast Guard and the fisheries surveillance force and their vessels continued preventing the Chinese vessels from entering the sea area to facilitate the illegal operation of the oil rig, Rear Admiral Quyet told Tuoi Tre on Wednesday night.

“We resolutely do not make any concession. We love peace, so we have tried to apply different measures to request the drilling rig and its escort ships to get out of Vietnamese waters. We must try to prevent bloodshed but we must also ensure our territorial sovereignty,” the rear admiral said.

The Coast Guard boats that were damaged in the attacks have partly been repaired and remained at the scene to join activities to prevent the Chinese’s encroachment, he added.

On May 6, during a phone call with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi regarding the illegal operation of the oil rig, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh said, “Vietnam cannot accept and resolutely opposes China’s act, and demands that China move the drilling rig and escort vessels out of the area before holding talks to resolve differences around the issue.”

Vietnam has full legal and historical evidence to prove its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos and the sovereign right and jurisdiction over the country’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in accordance with regulations in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Vietnamese official who is also Foreign Minister said.
Vietnam will take all proper and necessary measures to protect its legitimate rights and interests, while at the same time showing goodwill to solve differences satisfactorily through negotiations, dialogues, and other peaceful measures pursuant to the common perceptions of the two countries’ high-ranking leaders, Deputy PM Minh said.


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