Vinod Anand, a senior fellow at India’s Vivekananda International Foundation, has criticised China’s illegal placement of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

In his analysis run on on June 4, he affirmed that this act aimed to show China’s “military reach and power” in the region and obviously its intent was to coerce the Vietnamese side into renouncing or at least diluting their sovereignty claims to the hydro-carbon rich area that lies within the jurisdiction of Vietnam under the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS).

China has for long been blatantly laying maritime territorial claims in East Sea based on its so called ‘nine dash line’ which has no legal or historical grounds or for that matter no other internationally accepted norms and rules, he said.

The important territories and waters of Scarborough Shoal and Hoang Sa (Paracel) islands are claimed by China based on the above mentioned line and the Chinese action in May is clearly in support of reinforcing such a claim. The line is objected by Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia.

“It is well known that China has been adopting long term strategies along its both land and maritime borders to obtain land and maritime areas which it perceives to be its own. Over the years it has used legal warfare, psychological warfare and media warfare to achieve its goals and objectives,” Vinod Anand noted.

According to the Indian scholar, India and the international community remain concerned about likely adverse impact created by China ’s activities in the East Sea. Over 50 percent of the oil shipments pass through the sea and over 5.3 trillion USD worth of trade per year is carried out through it.

“Thus freedom of navigation through the South China Sea ( East Sea ) is an imperative,” he affirmed, adding that India has consistently supported the ASEAN nations in their quest for freedom of navigation through the East Sea and resolution of the dispute based on the international norms and UNCLOS.

At the beginning of May 2014, China illegally dispatched the rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 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. The location is 80 miles deep into Vietnam ’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

China’s armed vessels aggressively fired high-power water cannons at and intentionally rammed against Vietnamese public-service and civil ships, causing damage to many boats and injuring many people on board.

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

On May 26, Chinese ship 11209 sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel while it was operating normally in its traditional fishing ground near Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.

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. The new location is 25 nautical miles from Tri Ton Island in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa archipelago and 23 nautical miles east-northeast from the old location, still completely within Vietnam’s continental shelf. With the move, China has kept on violating Vietnam’s sovereign right and jurisdiction.-VNA