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China deploys myriad fishing boats to guard illegal rig in Vietnam’s waters

China has mobilized hundreds of fishing boats to protect the oil rig it has illegally placed in Vietnam’s waters since May 1 in addition to over 130 maritime surveillance, marine police, and military vessels, Tuoi Tre correspondents reported from the scene on Sunday.

China Coast Guard
A China Coast Guard ship is seen near the Chinese drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou 981, 
which has been placed illegally in Vietnam's waters since May 1, 2014

On the morning of May 18, while requesting the Chinese drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 and its escort ships to leave the waters, Vietnamese coast guard and fisheries surveillance vessels discovered hundreds of Chinese fishing boats were arranged about seven nautical miles from the drilling platform.

All of the boats directed their prows outward from the rig, and did not carry out any fishing activities.

Meanwhile, Chinese marine police and maritime surveillance ships continued to come closer to Vietnamese vessels and directed their guns at them.

Suddenly, two of the foreign boats rushed forward and rammed Vietnamese coast guard ship #2013 at 8:30 am, causing heavy damage to the local ship.

As seen by the Tuoi Tre reporters, the Chinese vessels were arranged into two rounds to surround the Vietnamese ships. On average, each Vietnamese ship had to cope with 4-5 Chinese vessels.

Also on Sunday morning, the reporters saw some Chinese vessels ram and fire their water cannons at Vietnamese fisheries surveillance vessels #766 and #926, breaking their glass windows and knocking down part of their handrails.

As previously reported, similar attacks have injured nine Vietnamese fisheries surveillance officers and caused damage to several boats since May 1.
The Chinese drilling platform is located at 15°29’58’’ North latitude and 111°12’06’’ East longitude in the East Vietnam Sea, which lies well within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs insisted.

China has deployed a large number of vessels including warships to guard the rig despite strong opposition from the Vietnamese government and people.

By yesterday, except for the fishing boats, the number of Chinese vessels in the waters amounted to 134, including military ships, the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department reported.

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 demanded that China move the drilling rig and escort vessels out of the area immediately and hold talks to resolve differences around the issue.
As the Chinese rig and its escort ships remain in Vietnamese waters, Deputy PM Pham Binh Minh made a phone call to Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi on May 15, requesting that Chinese authorities respond to Vietnam’s demand that Beijing withdraw its rig from the sea area.

>> Vietnamese force never wavers despite Chinese attacks 


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