A large number of Chinese ships stationed around the Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig, which is illegally placed in Vietnam’s waters, formed groups of up to 40 and aggressively barred Vietnamese law enforcement authority vessels from approaching, reported the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Department on June 3.

In addition to about 40 coast guard ships, approximately 30 cargo ships and tugboats, 45 fishing vessels and four warships from China were in the area, as well as two Chinese aircraft, the department revealed.

Facing the violent disturbance of Chinese forces, the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance authority ships continued to persistently and intensively approach the oil rig as close as they could, about 7 nautical miles, to demand China immediately remove it out of Vietnam’s waters.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese fishermen have maintained their normal operations in their traditional fishing ground in Vietnam’s waters about 18-20 nautical miles from the rig, despite the regular intimidation of the Chinese side.

As of June 3, the oil rig maintained its position at 15 degrees 33 minutes 36 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 11 seconds east longitude. The location is 25 nautical miles from Tri Ton Island in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa archipelago, completely within Vietnam’s continental shelf.

At the beginning of May, China illegally dispatched the rig and 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. The location was 80 miles deep inside Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone. It was moved on May 27 to its current position.

Ever since, Chinese ships have continuously encircled, constrained and driven away Vietnamese fishing boats and even injured Vietnamese fishermen, threatening their lives.

A Chinese ship on May 26 even sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel with 10 fishermen on board within Vietnam ’s waters. The fishermen were rescued.-VNA