China on Friday deployed “fishing” boats reinforced with a large metal object in their prows to the Vietnamese waters where the Chinese oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 has illegally been placed since May 1, Tuoi Tre correspondents reported from the scene.
>> 2 more Vietnamese fishing boats attacked by Chinese vessels >> Clip: Chinese vessel rams, sinks Vietnam fishing boat >> U.S. Senate protests China’s provocative act in Vietnam’s waters These Chinese ships look like fishing vessels by appearance, but they in fact conduct no fishing activities at all.
Instead, the ships have been used to threaten or ram Vietnamese vessels that are requesting the rig and its guarding ships to leave the Vietnamese waters, said the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department.
Reinforced with a big device in the shape of a pear in their prows, these "fishing" boats have become much more dangerous in their rams, the department warned. At least 44 such boats were seen in the waters yesterday afternoon. They joined other Chinese vessels including military ones, to prevent Vietnamese ships from getting close to the rig. Many of these "fishing" boats, with the supports of Chinese coast guard ships and tugboats, approached Vietnamese fishing vessels and their crew members then threw stones and other objects at the local ships.
These reinforced ships are ready to threaten or ram Vietnamese fishing boats to scare them away from operating in their traditional fishing fields in Vietnam's waters, the department said. Such attacks often occurred in areas about 9-11 nautical miles from the rig. At 3 pm, three Chinese coast guard ships cornered a Vietnamese coast guard, CSB 4032, in waters, while five ironclad fishing boats with their reinforced prows sped up towards the local vessel. The captain of the CSB 4032, senior lieutenant Vu Trong Huan, tried to steer his boat away from the scene to escape the assault. Similar cases were seen throughout Friday, the officer said. The Chinese rig, after relocating twice, is now located at 15°33’22’’ North latitude and 111°34’23’’ East longitude, still in Vietnamese waters.
China has maintained the rig there so far despite the strong protest from Vietnam, which has repeatedly demanded that Beijing remove the platform immediately from the Vietnamese sea area. Since early May, the attacks by other Chinese ships on Vietnam’s marine law enforcement forces have wounded 12 fisheries surveillance officers and damaged 24 boats —19 from the department and five from the Vietnam Coast Guard. The foreign forces have also launched a dozen attacks on Vietnamese fishing vessels, injuring several fishermen, sinking a boat, damaging dozens of others, and destroying a lot of equipment and property, the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department said.