Chinese marine surveillance aircraft CMS-B3808 on Thursday was seen circling above Vietnamese law enforcement ships near an oil rig that China has deployed illegally in waters well within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone.
At 11:45, 12:40 and 13:05, the CMS-B3808 circled above the Vietnamese ships at the height of 200-300m before leaving, according to the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Department.
At the same time, more than 100 Chinese vessels, including five naval ships, continued surrounding the drilling rig, which was positioned in Vietnam ’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in early May.
The Chinese ships formed lines around the rig and aggressively prevented Vietnamese ships from approaching the rig to conduct communications missions to demand China immediately remove the facility from Vietnam’s waters.
Despite Chinese harassment, Vietnam’s coast guard and fisheries surveillance ships managed to operate in the area to perform their duties about 10-11 nautical miles from the rig.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese fishing vessels, though being disturbed by Chinese fishing ships and two coast guard vessels, maintained their normal activities in their traditional fishing ground about 42 nautical miles from the rig.
In early May, 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 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, 60 nautical miles deep inside Vietnam’s waters.
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.
Video credit: VTV3