China pushes further into Vietnamese waters

Thanh Nien News

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The Chinese deep sea drilling rig HD-981. FILE PHOTO
In the face of strong protest from Vietnam, China's massive mobile drilling rig will continue to pursue oil and gas in its neighbor's exclusive economic zone.
The Chinese Maritime Safety Administration on May 5 reaffirmed that the HD-981 rig will operate for three months in the East Sea, also known as South China Sea.
The administration noted that no ship should enter within three nautical miles of the rig from May 4- August 15 as it conducts its search.
On May 3, the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration announced that the rig HD-981 would drill in a location of 15 degrees and 29’58’’ North latitude and 111 degrees and 12’06’’ East longitude from May 2 to August 15.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has protested the illegal foray, saying that the planned actions will occur on Vietnam's continental shelf, some 120 nautical miles from the Vietnamese coast.
On Sunday, the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) sent a letter to the director of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) asking that the company withdraw the oil rig from Vietnamese waters.
On Monday, PetroVietnam General Director Do Van Hau was quoted by Tuoi Tre as saying that the company will continue to protest China’s illegal operation of the drilling rig in Vietnam’s waters.
He said the Chinese drilling rig is conducting its survey in a parcel of land known as block 143, which belongs to Vietnam.
He said PetroVietnam has yet to survey in the block and that its plans for operation in the East Sea will remain unchanged.
Giao Duc Viet Nam cited Chinese media reports that Vietnamese Marine Police boats are interfering with the illegal operation of the rig.
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.

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