The Chinese vessels guarding China’s illegal oil rig in Vietnam’s waters began operating more aggressively on Sunday in an attempt to scare Vietnamese ships away from the scene, the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department reported.
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China deployed about 120 vessels including 6 warships, 40 coast guard ships, more than 30 transport ships and tugboats, and 34-40 fishing boats in the Vietnamese waters where the rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 has been illegally placed since May 1.
These Chinese vessels were arranged in groups to try to drive Vietnamese vessels further away from the rig’s location, the department said.
Chinese coast guard ships and tugboats aggressively threatened Vietnamese Coast Guard and fisheries surveillance ships in an effort to push the local force further from their existing locations of 8-11 nautical miles from the drilling platform.
Meanwhile, China’s large iron-clad fishing boats operated more aggressively to dislodge Vietnam’s smaller wooden boats from their traditional fishing grounds, about 35-40 nautical miles from the rig, within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
Specifically, Chinese vessels sought ways to approach local ships in order to ram or fire their water cannons at them, the department said.
Notably, Chinese fishing boats have been reinforced with a large pear-shaped device in their prows which adds force when they ram smaller boats, the department warned.
In addition, a Y-8 spying plane hovered at an elevation of 300-500 meters above the Vietnamese vessels in the area yesterday.
However, both the maritime law enforcement force and the fishing boats of Vietnam in the area did not make concessions to the Chinese force, managing to stay in their existing locations in Vietnam’s waters, the department said.
Vietnam Coast Guard and fisheries surveillance ships continued to demand that the rig and its guarding vessels leave the waters, while Vietnamese fishing boats are trying to stay in their traditional fishing fields, the department added.
After relocating twice – on May 27 and June 1 – the Chinese rig is located at 15°33'22'' North latitude and 111°34'23'' East longitude, still in the Vietnamese waters.