Chinese ships continue to repeatedly ram and use water cannons against Vietnamese vessels in Vietnamese waters on Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF VIETNAM MARINE POLICE
Chinese military aircraft Sunday entered Vietnam’s air zone, aiming to beef up protection for its giant oil rig stationed in Vietnamese waters.
Two groups of Chinese military aircraft flew over Vietnam’s marine police vessels at a height of 800 to 1,000 meters on Saturday and Sunday, said Ngo Ngoc Thu, vice commander of the High Command of Vietnam Marine Police.
The fighter jets joined a Chinese fleet of military and civilian ships that have appeared in Vietnamese waters since early this month, creating a protecting zone around seven nautical miles from the oil rig, Thu said.
The ships continued to repeatedly ram and use water cannons against Vietnamese vessels which were trying to stop the Haiyang Shiyou-981 rig from drilling for oil and gas inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone in the East Sea, also known as the South China Sea.
Thu said Vietnam marine still restrained to avoid clashes and damage as well as not to escalate the current tensions.
China and four members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei all claim territory in the South China Sea.
China's claim is the largest, covering most of the sea's 648,000 square miles (1.7 million square km). The claim has been emphatically rejected by international scholars as illegitimate and overreaching.