Tension has continued to escalate in the East Sea as China has maintained the presence of a large number of ships around the drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou-981, according to the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Department.

On June 11, as many as 39 coast guard vessels, 14 cargo ships, 20 tugboats and six warships were seen defending the rig, which has been illegally stationed in Vietnam’s waters since the beginning of May, reported the department.

The battle ships surrounded the rig from all sides, aggressively ramming and firing water cannons at Vietnamese vessels to keep them 9-11 nautical miles from it, the department said.

Meanwhile, about 35 Chinese fishing vessels, with the support of coast guard ships, violently disturbed Vietnamese fishing boats operating normally in their traditional fishing ground about 30-40 nautical miles near the rig, it said.

They continued attempting to present themselves as victims by sailing past Vietnamese fishing boats and then suddenly reversing into them so that it would look like Chinese ships were rammed, stated the department.

However, the department said Vietnamese fishing boats have been persistently demanding their fishing ground, while the coast guard and fisheries surveillance authorities continued resolutely requesting China to immediately remove the rig from Vietnam’s waters.

In early May, China illegally dispatched the rig as well as a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft to Vietnam’s waters and positioned it at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude, 80 miles deep inside Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

In May alone, 19 fisheries surveillance ships and five coast guard vessels of Vietnam were seriously damaged after being rammed and fired with water cannons while performing their mission demanding China withdraw its rig.

Particularly, on May 26, Chinese ships sank a fishing boat belonging to Da Nang fishermen operating in the traditional fishing grounds near Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.

On June 1, Chinese ships seriously damaged ship 2016 of the Vietnam Coast Guard, causing holes on its side.

On June 7, Chinese ships deliberately rammed into Vietnam’s fisheries surveillance ship KN-635, causing more damage.-VNA