China on July 11 sent six naval ships to protect an oil rig it has deployed illegally in Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone since May, according to the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Department.
The department’s representatives said between 103-110 Chinese ships of all kinds operated in the waters around the rig throughout the day. They lined up and moved close to Vietnamese ships to prevent them from getting near the rig.
However, Vietnamese fisheries surveillance and coast guard vessels braved the harassment to stay at the site and conduct their law enforcement mission.
They also helped protected the safety of Vietnamese fishing boats, which continued fishing in their traditional grounds, about 42-45 nautical miles from the rig, despite the disturbance by more than 20 Chinese fishing ships, supported by two coast guard vessels and two cargo ships.
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