A Chinese helicopter at 9:35 am on June 17 landed on drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou-981, which is illegally standing in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, according the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Department.

On the day, China maintained 136 ships, including coast guard, cargo and fishing vessels, tugboats, and five military ships, to surround the rig.

The Chinese fleet kept on circling and standing ready to ram Vietnamese vessels, while approaching them to a distance of 30-50m, the department reported.

In addition, Chinese fishing ships escorted by a coast guard ship coded 46102 formed a line to block and disturb Vietnamese fishing boats undertaking their normal catching activities at about 30 nautical miles from the rig.

Despite strong wind and rough sea, Vietnamese ships continued their mission and tried to get closer to the rig to protest and demand China move it from Vietnam’s waters.

At the beginning of 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 the rig 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.

Despite Vietnam’s protest, China has expanded its scale of operation and moved the rig to 15 degrees 33 minutes 36 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 11 seconds east longitude. The new location is 60 nautical miles deep inside Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.-VNA