China is still surrounding its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou – 981, illegally stationed in Vietnam’s waters, with various vessels standing ready to attack and prevent Vietnamese law enforcement and fishing ships from approaching the rig.

Tensions have been high ever since China positioned the rig at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 6 seconds east longitude, 80 miles deep inside Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, in early May.

On May 27, China moved the rig to 15 degrees 33 minutes 22 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 36 seconds east longitude, still well within Vietnam’s waters.

On May 30, the rig still sat there, escorted by 120 - 125 ships of different kinds, including 40 maritime police boats, 25 - 30 freighters, nearly 50 fishing vessels, four warships, and three planes, including fighter jets, reported the Vietnam Coast Guard on May 31.

It said the Vietnamese coast guard ships were still operating 6 - 10 nautical miles from the rig while some 35 fishing boats were moving 25 - 35 nautical miles from the western and southern area of the rig.

The Chinese side deployed about 50 fishing vessels to encircle in various directions, preventing Vietnamese fishermen from catching fish across a huge arc of their traditional fishing grounds.

They were ready to use high-pressure water cannons to spray and intentionally rammed into Vietnamese ships, leaving many damaged, it added.

Ever since the tensions began, Vietnam has exercised the utmost restraint, shown every gesture of goodwill and exhausted all dialogue channels to communicate with Chinese authorities of different levels in order to express protest and demand China immediately withdraw its rig and armed and military vessels from Vietnam’s waters.

Nevertheless, up to now, China has failed to respond to Vietnam’s legitimate demand. On the contrary, it has been slandering and blaming Vietnam while continuing to escalate the use of force and violations in an increasingly dangerous and serious manner.

By encircling, chasing, ramming and spraying Vietnamese boats, they have injured many sailors and fishermen, threatening their lives.

On May 26, Chinese ship 11209 sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel while it was operating normally in its usual area near Hoang Sa archipelago.-VNA