As many as 24 of Vietnam’s law enforcement ships have been damaged and 12 fisheries surveillance officials have been injured by the Chinese side in the last month, revealed Ngo Ngoc Thu, Vice Commander and Chief of Staff of the Vietnam Coast Guard at an international press conference in Hanoi on June 5.

He stated that of the total, 19 fisheries surveillance ships and five coast guard vessels of Vietnam were destroyed after being rammed and fired with water cannons while performing their mission of demanding China withdraw its rig, named Haiyang Shiyou-981, from Vietnam’s waters, where it is illegally standing.

Thu noted that apart from deploying coast guard, patrol and logistics ships around the rig, China has so far sent a large number of big iron-made fishing vessels, together with many different kinds of warship and aircraft.

“Chinese ships have grouped together and formed three circles around the rig, enabling them to encircle and ram Vietnamese vessels making an approach,” Thu said.

Along with using high-power water cannons to damage Vietnamese ships and equipment on board, Chinese ships also used loudspeakers and powerful lights, affecting the health of Vietnamese coast guards and fisheries surveillance officials, stated Thu.

Meanwhile, Vietnam has only used peaceful measures, including spoken words and banners in Vietnamese, English and Chinese to protest China’s illegal act and demand it remove the rig out of Vietnam ’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, Thu noted.

According to Tran Duy Hai, Deputy Head of the National Border Committee, during the past month since China illegally placed its oil rig in Vietnam’s waters, there have been more than 30 talks in different forms between the two sides.

Ignoring Vietnam’s goodwill and efforts, China not only continued their illegal actions but also gave a negative response by slandering and blaming Vietnam, he said.

More dangerously, China has even expanded the operation of the rig by moving it to a new location which is still completely inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, while continuing to send more ships to defend it, Hai emphasised.

On May 26, a Chinese vessel took the inhumane action of sinking Vietnamese fishing boat DNa 90152 and hindering other Vietnamese ships trying to rescue the fishermen on board.

On June 1, Chinese vessels seriously destroyed ship 2016 of the Vietnam Coast Guard, causing four holes on its right side and nearly sinking it, he said, adding that China ’s actions intensified tensions in the East Sea , seriously threatening peace, stability, freedom of navigation and maritime security and safety in the region, and worrying the international community.

Vietnam has sent three diplomatic notes to the Chinese Foreign Ministry to demand China respect international law and immediately stop its violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, he said.

“However, China still ignores Vietnam’s request,” Hai stated.

He also called on the international community as well as domestic and foreign media agencies, to continue their strong voice against China ’s wrongful actions in an objective and fair manner, protecting justice.

Hai noted foreign opinion against China’s illegal actions, saying that this is the first time in recent years the international community has shown such a strong reaction to what was happening in the East Sea .

“The voice of the international community plays an important role in maintaining peace, stability, and ensuring maritime security and safety in the East Sea as well as preventing China ’s new escalations,” Hai said, calling for stronger support from the international community.

Meanwhile, Ha Le, Deputy Head of the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that since May 7, 12 Vietnamese fishing vessels have been attacked and constrained by the Chinese side.

At the press conference, the Vietnamese officials affirmed Vietnam’s stance of pursuing peaceful measures to settle disputes in the East Sea, based on international law and the UN Charter.

Vietnam will continue its diplomatic efforts with China, while considering its next measures to solve the issue and protect the rights and legitimate interests of Vietnam, they said.

Regarding the content of upcoming ASEAN meetings in Myanmar, Spokesman of the Foreign Ministry Le Hai Binh said apart from the ASEAN Community and regional trust-building and preventive diplomatic measures, the meetings will focus on the East Sea issue.

“Maintaining peace, stability, security and safety of navigation in the region is both a benefit and obligation of regional and non-regional countries. So the East Sea issue and tensions in the region will be on the table at the meetings at an appropriate level,” he added.

In regard to a recent statement issued by the G7 expressing deep concern over acts and tensions in the East Sea and the East China Sea, Binh held that Vietnam welcomes the move while opposing unilateral action of a country over sovereignty claims by using force or threatening to use force.

He expressed the wish that countries and international organisations will continue their strong voice and practical actions to contribute to regional peace, stability, security and the settlement of disputes by peaceful measures in accordance with international law.-VNA