China on July 8 mobilised an electronic reconnaissance plane to oversee the operation of Vietnamese law enforcement ships in the area that China is illegally placing its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou – 981, reported the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Department.
From 7:15-8:05am, the TU-154M reconnaissance aircraft coded 1224 was seen flying at the attitude of 200-300m above the sea .
Meanwhile, China still kept 106 ships of various kinds around its oil rig. They include 46 coast guard, 14 cargo, 27 fishing ships, 14 tugboats, and five military vessels.
When Vietnamese fisheries surveillance ships tried to approach the rig at a distance of 10-11 nautical miles to demand China immediately withdraw its rig and ships out of Vietnam’s waters, Chinese ships simultaneously sped up and kept close to Vietnamese ships, hindering them from approaching the rig.
Chinese fishing ships backed by their coast guard and fishery logistics service ships also obstructed Vietnamese boats fishing on their traditional fishing grounds, 42-45 nautical miles from the rig.
In early May 2014, China illegally dispatched the oil rig as well as a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft to Vietnam’s waters and positioned the rig 80 miles deep into Vietnam’s 200-nautical continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.
Despite Vietnam’s protests, China expanded its scale of operation and moved the rig to a new area, still 60 nautical miles deep inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.
China’s armed vessels have aggressively and consistently fired high-power water cannons at and intentionally rammed Vietnamese public-service and civil ships, causing damage to many boats and injuring many people on board.
On May 26, a Chinese ship even sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel while it was operating normally in its traditional fishing ground near Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.