|Site of the clash (Source: VNA)|
At the conference, Vice Commander and Chief of Staff of the Vietnam Coast Guard Ngo Ngoc Thu, said that on May 1, Vietnamese agencies detected the Hai Yang Shi You 981 deep sea rig of China escorted by three oil and gas service vessels moving from the northeastern area of Tri Ton Island in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago to the south.
At 16pm on May 2, the rig was floating at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude, to the south of Tri Ton Island. The location was 80km deep in Vietnam’s continental shelf and was 119 nautical miles to Vietnam’s Ly Son Island and 130 nautical miles to its coast.
According to Deputy Director of the National Boundary Commission Tran Duy Hai, China has so far deployed many vessels, up to 80 at peak time, of various kinds, including seven military ships backed by 33 boats of marine police, marine surveillance force and fishery administration force, as well as transport and fishing vessels. In addition, dozens of Chinese plane are operating daily on the area. A flotilla of armed fishing boats and military ships are prowling 50-60 nautical miles from Ly Son island.
Hai said that when Vietnam’s law enforcement ships arrived to stop the illegal intrusion of the Chinese side, Chinese ships aggressively fired water cannon at and even rammed at Vietnamese vessels, damaging Vietnam’s coast guard vessels and injuring crew members.
The official stressed that Vietnam’s enforcement forces had exercised utmost restraint in the face of Chinese ships’ aggressive acts.
Representatives from the Foreign Ministry, the National Boundary Commission, the Vietnam Coast Guard High Command and the Department of Fisheries Resources Surveillance (under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) answered many questions of domestic and foreign reporters on the incidence.
They affirmed that the illegal entry of Vietnam’s waters by China’s oil rig and vessels a well as their aggressive acts towards Vietnamese ships has violated Vietnam’s sovereignty rights and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, seriously running counter to Vietnamese and international laws. It also violated the agreement between ASEAN and China on the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the East Sea.
The site of the clash is on an international shipping line running through Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, thus seriously threatening maritime security and safety, and affecting countries in the region and the world.
China’s wrongful acts undermine Vietnam – China relations and bilateral high-level agreements, damaging the trust of Vietnam and international community, the officials stressed.
They however reiterated that Vietnam advocates the use of peaceful measures to solve disputes and will persevere in discussing East Sea problems with China and in adopting peaceful means to safeguard its sovereignty.