The Chinese vessels that are guarding China’s oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 in Vietnam’s waters approached Vietnamese ships on Sunday at a distance of 10 meters, attempting to ram them, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper correspondents reported from the scene.
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Yesterday morning, as the waters where the rig is located in the East Vietnam Sea settled after being aggravated by tropical storm Hagibis, the commander of Vietnamese fisheries surveillance team No. 4 decided to move the force, along with some Coast Guard ships, closer to the Chinese rig to demand its withdrawal.
At least seven Chinese vessels immediately sped up toward the local vessels to prevent them from approaching the drilling platform.
The shortest distance between the foreign and local vessels was just 10-30 meters, and the former were ready to ram or fire water cannons at the latter whenever possible.
Of the Vietnamese vessels, a Coast Guard ship was threatened the most, as it was closest to the rig during the past several days.
Three Chinese vessels, including coast guard boat #2166 and two tugboats, simultaneously rushed toward Vietnam’s CSB 3032 when the local ship was about 8 nautical miles from the rig.
At that time, Chinese spy plane CMS 3843 hovered above the Vietnamese vessels.
At 1:30 pm, Chinese fishery surveillance vessel #32101 chased Vietnamese ship CSB 4033 at 24 nautical miles per hour, and there were times when the two vessels sailed in parallel at a distance of 12-20 meters.
However, the Vietnamese marine law enforcement force maintained their presence in the area, resolutely demanding that the rig and its escorting ships leave the area.
Similarly, Vietnamese fishing ships operating in areas 38-40 nautical miles from the rig also tried to maintain their operations, although they were often surrounded by large iron-clad Chinese fishing boats that threatened to slam into them to dislodge them from their traditional fishing grounds in Vietnam’s waters.
On Sunday, China deployed 36-40 coast guard ships, 30-32 transport boats and tugboats, 45-50 fishing boats and six military ships, the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department reported.
Beijing also sent a military plane to the area 40 nautical miles from the rig from 8:25 am to 9:10 am at an elevation of about 500 meters.
In the night, Chinese vessels intimidated Vietnamese vessels by sounding their horns loudly and directing their floodlights at them.
China has placed and maintained the rig in Vietnamese waters since May 1, despite strong protest from Vietnam, which has repeatedly requested that China withdraw the rig and its escorting ships from the waters immediately and unconditionally.