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Chinese coastguard vessels give chase to Vietnamese ships

Chinese coastguard vessels give chase to Vietnamese ships

Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 10:57 GMT+7

A series of photos shot by Reuters staff show a group of Chinese vessels on Tuesday gave chase to Vietnamese ships around the Haiyang Shiyou 981 (HD-981) oil rig that China deployed to Vietnamese waters in the East Vietnam Sea without notice in early May.

Crewmen in blue camouflage uniforms pour out onto the deck of a Vietnamese coastguard ship as an imposing Chinese vessel guarding a giant oil rig gives chase, gathering steam by the second.

A group of Chinese ships joined the pursuit, peeling away from a flotilla of about two-dozen vessels surrounding HD-981, the $1 billion rig that China deployed without notice in early May, triggering the worst breakdown in ties between the two countries in three decades.

Vietnam says this stretch of the East Vietnam Sea is in its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone and accuses China of bullying and trying to ram Vietnamese fishing vessels in the potentially energy-rich waters.

China claims about nine-tenths of the East Vietnam Sea but insists it wants a peaceful resolution to the conflict. China vehemently denies mobilising military ships in the waters, but among the crew aboard CG 8003, those protestations do not carry much weight.

Earlier on Tuesday, men gathered around a radar screen in the control room as others on deck peered through binoculars and took video footage of Chinese vessels clustering on the horizon.

A television screen picked out one of two grey-coloured Chinese frigates in the distance, with what appeared to be small missiles launchers at the stern.

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Chinese coastguard ships give chase to Vietnamese coastguard vessels (not pictured) after they came within 10 nautical miles of the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the East Vietnam Sea, July 15, 2014. [Reuters]

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A crewman from the Vietnamese coastguard ship 8003 looks out at sea as Chinese coastguard vessels give chase to Vietnamese ships that came close to the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the East Vietnam Sea, July 15, 2014. [Reuters]

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Crewmen aboard Vietnam coastguard ship 8003 look at a Chinese navy frigate on a screen, in waters close to the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the East Vietnam Sea, July 15, 2014. [Reuters]

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A Chinese navy frigate is seen on the horizon in waters close to the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the East Vietnam Sea, July 15, 2014. [Reuters]

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Crewmen aboard Vietnam coastguard ship 8003 monitor radar of Chinese ships in waters close to China's Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the East Vietnam Sea, July 15, 2014. [Reuters]

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Chinese ships are seen on the horizon guarding the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig (2nd R) in the East Vietnam Sea, July 15, 2014. [Reuters]

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Crewmen aboard Vietnam coastguard ship 8003 plot coordinates on a map, in waters close to the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the East Vietnam Sea, July 15, 2014. [Reuters]

Reuters

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