|The Viet Nam Fisheries Surveillance Department reported that Chinese vessels were arranged in two rows to prevent Vietnamese ships from approaching the site of oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981.— VNA/VNS Photo
HA NOI (VNS) — China yesterday stepped up efforts to prevent Vietnamese law enforcement ships from approaching the oil rig it has illegally stationed in Vietnamese waters since early last month.
The Viet Nam Fisheries Surveillance Department reported that Chinese vessels were arranged in two rows to prevent Vietnamese ships from approaching the site of oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981.
It said the position of the oil rig remained unchanged and that it was surrounded by 116-122 Chinese ships of various kinds, including coast guard, cargo and military ships, tugboats and fishing vessels.
The rig has been illegally placed in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf since May 2.
As in previous days and weeks, Chinese vessels sped up and threatened to ram Viet Nam's fisheries surveillance vessels when the latter got to 10-11 nautical miles from the rig.
Braving the blockade, the Vietnamese ships stayed put and continued to demand that China to withdraw the rig and escort ships from the Viet Nam's sovereign waters.
Viet Nam's fisheries surveillance vessels also defied efforts by as many as 34 Chinese steel fishing vessels to prevent Vietnamese boats from operating in their traditional fishing grounds near the rig.
The Chinese vessels were backed by two coast guard ships coded 46102 and 46106.
Press solidarity sought
Also yesterday, the Viet Nam Journalists Association (VJA) issued a statement calling on their international counterparts including the Chinese press to develop and
propagate a "clear and correct" understanding of the East Sea situation.
It called on China to immediately stop its provocative acts and violations of Viet Nam's sea and island sovereignty.
It noted that on May 10, after China had illegally positioned its oil rig in Vietnamese waters, the VJA President had sent a letter to the Chairman of the All-China Journalists Association strongly protesting China's violations of Viet Nam's sovereignty, sovereign right and jurisdiction.
The VJA President also demanded that China immediately end its illegal actions and withdraw the rig, its escort ships and aircraft from Vietnamese waters.
However, China has persisted with its aggression, defying justice as well as opposition from Viet Nam and the world.
Not only has it not withdrawn the rig, it has carried out even more dangerous and serious actions including using large vessels to ram Vietnamese vessels, damaging many boats and their equipment as well as endangering the lives of Vietnamese citizens on board.
It has also continued to slander and blame Viet Nam, the VJA said.
It noted that on June 23, seven Chinese vessels encircled, fired high-pressure water cannons and rammed against Vietnamese fisheries surveillance ship KN-951 while it was discharging its duties in the area within Viet Nam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.
"These are dangerous acts that escalate tension in the area, harm the sentiment between the two peoples and threaten peace, stability, maritime security and safety in the East Sea," the statement said.
It called on the international press, including that of China, to condemn dangerous and provocative actions that infringe international law, firstly the 1892 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea; and violate Viet Nam's sovereignty over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
The association also reiterated Viet Nam's stance on resolving disputes by peaceful means on the basis of international law, equality and mutual respect, for the common interests of the peoples of both nations, and for peace in the region and the world at large. — VNS