Chinese fishing boats Thursday damaged the cables of a ship chartered by the Vietnamese national oil and gas group when it was engaged in seismic surveys in Vietnam’s waters, the foreign ministry said the same day.
According to Nguyen Phuong Nga, the ministry's spokesperson, the latest attack took place at 6 a.m. when the Viking II, leased by the PetroVietnam Technical Services Corporation (PTSC) under the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) from a foreign company, was working at Lot. No 136.03 (6o47.5’ N – 109o17.5’ E) in Vietnam’s continental shelf.
At first a Chinese fishing boat No.62226 crossed by the Viking II’s prow with the support of two Chinese “fishery administration” vessels marked No.311 and No.303, Nga said.
They then changed direction, heading for the Viking II’s cable lines in high speeds, although the latter’s crew gave signal fires many times, she said.
The ship No.62226’s devices specialized in cutting cables then were stuck in the Viking II’s cables, affecting the latter’s operation, the spokeswoman said. Later the two fishery patrol ships and several other Chinese fishing boats came to rescued the stuck one.
“The act of Chinese fishing and surveillance boats were totally intended, calculated, and well-prepared,” Nga said.
“It has critically violated Vietnam’s sovereignty right and national jurisdiction, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982), and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) [signed between China and ASEAN in 2002].
“It was against the shared understanding of the two countries’ high-ranking leaders about maintaining peace, and has caused critical economic losses to the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group,” she said.
Meanwhile, PTSC Director General Nguyen Hung Dung told Thanh Nien that technicians are repairing damages to the ship’s cables so it can resume operation soon.
“The incident’s losses are currently being checked and calculated,” he said.
Asked about the corporation and its mother company’s order to the Viking II’s crew, considering this wasn’t the first time it was harassed, Dung said they had told the crew to stay calm.
“PTSC’s staff and crew are determined to be stick to the sea and conduct the mission of seismic surveys as ordered,” he said.
In an interview with Thanh Nien, Do Van Hau, deputy director general of PetroVietnam, said: “PetroVietnam protested Chinese ships cutting the cables of Viking II when it was conducting seismic surveys in Vietnam’s continental shelf.”
Early this month local newspaper Tuoi Tre reported that the Viking II was continuously harassed by several foreign boats while it was conducting seismic surveys in Vietnam’s waters near Dai Hung oil field, 270 kilometers off the central province of Vung tau.
According to news source, the Norwegian-flagged ship is owned by French-owned CGG Veritas Joint-venture.
However, at the latest press conference, Nga said that so far Vietnam is yet to be informed of the reactions of the countries related to the attacked ship, Tuoi Tre reported.
On May 26, the Binh Minh 02, a ship of PetroVietnam, also had its cables cut by Chinese marine surveillance ships when it was conducting oil exploration work.
The incident, which happened when the ship was in Vietnam’s territorial waters, some 120 nautical miles off the central coast, has outraged Vietnamese people and raised concerns about the East Sea’s security among many countries.
Still, at recent international meetings like the Shangri-la dialogue held in Singapore last week, Vietnam’s defense officials have affirmed that Vietnam will pursue peaceful measures to solve the East Sea’s issues.
At the ASEAN Regional Forum’s security policy conference organized in Indonesia Wednesday, Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh reiterated that the East Sea’s issues need to be solved via multilateral peace negotiation and international legal basis like the UNCLOS 1982 and DOC.
He said Vietnam supports suggestions by Cambodia and Indonesia about signing a Code of Conduct (COC) agreement between ASEAN and China as early as next year.
However, while the agreement is yet to be reached or while the UNCLOS 1982 isn’t followed strictly, disputes and conflicts need to be dealt with peaceful measures, not forces or strong measures, he stressed.
According to Vinh, the members of ARF, which consist of 25 countries, need to show more strongly and properly their responsibilities facing security challenges, adding that ASEAN countries need to strengthen solidarity and avoid conflicts.
Also attending the conference, Deputy Chief of General Staff Lieut. Gen. Wei Fenghe said China will strictly follow the principals of peace and development that it has committed with the world, solving disputes with peaceful measures, and approving UNCLOS 1982.
But, it refused to bring bilateral issues like territorial disputes to multilateral forums, according to Wei.