Video credit: Vietnam Television
China has kept five military ships to defend the mobile oil rig it illegally deployed into Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone on May 2, the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Department reported on Monday.
The Chinese maintain a fleet of up to 120 ships around the rig, including 46-48 coast guard vessels, 13-15 cargo ships, 34 fishing boats and 16-18 tugboats.
Vietnamese fisheries surveillance ships that have attempted to approach the rig from a distance of 10-11.5 nautical miles have been swarmed by Chinese ships determined to besiege and obstruct them from accessing the rig.
Vietnamese fisheries surveillance ships have continued to brave the Chinese blockade and its aggressive sentries to press the fleet to leave the area.
Vietnamese fishing boats that initially attempted to travel to traditional fishing grounds 40-44 nautical miles from the rig were hindered by a fleet of nearly 34 Chinese fishing boats backed by two coast guard ships.
Vietnamese fisheries surveillance ships have since been dispatched to protect their operations.
According to the department, the rig remains stagnant.
Early last month, China illegally dispatched the rig as well as a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft to Vietnam’s waters and positioned the rig deep inside Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.
Despite virulent international objections, China has expanded the scale of its operation and moved the rig 60 nautical miles further inside Vietnam’s sovereign maritime territory.
Ever since the tensions began, Vietnam has exercised the utmost restraint, exercised marked goodwill and pursued every possible diplomatic channel to communicate its objections to China's actions and demand an immediate withdrawal from Vietnamese waters.
Rather than heed these demands, China has slandered Vietnam while continuing to escalate the use of force and pursue actions that seriously threaten regional security.
In chasing, ramming and firing water cannons at Vietnamese vessels, Chinese forces operating in the region have injured many sailors and fishermen.