Nearly 4,500 Buddhist monks, nuns and followers in the central province of Quang Tri on June 11 gathered at a ceremony to pray for peace in the East Sea following China’s illegal act of positioning its drilling rig in Vietnam’s waters.

Held by the provincial chapter of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS), the ceremony also aimed to mobilise donations for people and soldiers in the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos.

Speaking at the event, head of Quang Tri’s VBS Executive Board Thich Thien Tan recalled the country’s 4,000-year history of foundation and defence, and affirmed Vietnamese people’s hope for peace.

He also called on local people and those throughout the country in general to join hands in opposing China’s actions and supporting Vietnam’s forces, who are making every effort to safeguard the country’s sovereignty.

At the beginning of May, China illegally dispatched the rig as well as a large fleet of ships and aircraft to Vietnamese 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.

Vietnam has attempted to conduct exchanges of ideas and dialogues with China on over 30 occasions in various forms and at different levels to demand China unconditionally end all violations of Vietnam’s sovereign right and jurisdiction as well as Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa archipelago.

Despite Vietnam’s requests, China has expanded its scale of operation and moved the Haiyang Shiyou-981 drilling 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.

China is constantly maintaining a large presence of escort ships and warships in the area, numbering up to 140 a day. Chinese fighter aircraft are also flying over the area where the rig is illegally standing in Vietnam’s waters.

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

Such acts gravely violate international law, the 1982 UNCLOS, and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), to which China itself is a signatory.

These extremely dangerous acts also directly threaten peace, stability and maritime security and safety in the East Sea.-VNA