|A Chinese vessel fires a water cannon at a Vietnamese vessel on Sunday in Viet Nam's waters. — VNA/VNS Photo Son Bach
HA NOI (VNS) — Groups of up to 40 Chinese ships stationed around the Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig yesterday aggressively barred Vietnamese law enforcement vessels from approaching.
The Viet Nam Fisheries Surveillance Department said that there were a total of about 40 coast-guard ships, about 30 cargo ships and tugboats, 45 fishing vessels and four warships - all from China - in the area.
While the drama continued to evolve, two Chinese aircraft hovered above.
Faced by the increased Chinese flotilla, Viet Nam Fisheries Surveillance ships persistently approached the oil rig as close as they could, about seven nautical miles, to demand China immediately remove it from Vietnamese waters.
Vietnamese fishermen have maintained normal operations in other traditional fishing grounds in Viet Nam's waters about 18-20 nautical miles from the rig, despite regular intimidation from the Chinese side.
Yesterday, the oil rig maintained a position at 15 degrees 33 minutes 36 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 11 seconds east longitude. This is 25 nautical miles from Tri Ton Island in Viet Nam's Hoang Sa archipelago - and completely within Viet Nam's continental shelf.
Since early May, Chinese ships have continuously encircled, constrained or driven away Vietnamese fishing boats and even injured Vietnamese fishermen, threatening their lives.
A Chinese ship on May 26 even sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel with 10 fishermen on board in Viet Nam's waters.
Meanwhile, President of the France-Viet Nam Friendship Parliamentarians' Group, Pascal Deguilhem, yesterday spoke highly of Viet Nam's efforts in dealing with disputes in the East Sea through peaceful means and dialogue.
Hosting a press conference in Ha Noi yesterday, he said his group was concerned about China's illegal placement of a drilling rig in Viet Nam's waters.
He said the group held out hope that peaceful solutions are found through international law.
Deguilhem said France consistently followed the view that solutions be sought to problems through international law and the use of dialogue.
Any activity using force without a legitimate reason should be condemned, he said, referring to a Chinese ship sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat. — VNS