China on May 15 continued ignoring international pressure and maintained its large presence of ships around its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981, which is illegally positioned in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

Vietnam News Agency reporters boarded on a Vietnam Coast Guard vessel at the scene reported that Chinese ships usually approached Vietnamese vessels while they were undertaking their law enforcement mission in Vietnam’s waters.

At 9:00 am on May 15, Chinese ship 2112 suddenly began to follow Vietnam Coast Guard vessel 8003 and kept a distance of 180 metres to one side, while Chinese ship 3411 closely approached the Vietnamese boat from the other side. Both Chinese ships then attempted to block vessel 8003 from getting closer to the illegal rig. At that time, the boats were about 10 nautical miles from of the rig.

According to the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, by May 15 China had deployed 99 ships (38 coast guard vessels, 19 logistical boats, eight tugs, four warships and 30 fishing ships) and different aircraft to the area where the rig stands illegally in Vietnam’s waters.

On May 2, China stationed the rig at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude. The location is 80 nautical miles deep inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.

Chinese ships have repeatedly rammed and fired water cannons against Vietnamese coast guard and fisheries surveillance ships, which are carrying out their law enforcement missions in the country’s waters, causing damage to boats and leaving several fisheries surveillance officers injured.-VNA