One June 18, three Chinese aircraft flew above the site where Chinese oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 is standing illegally in Vietnamese waters, the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Force reported.

Vietnam News Agency reporters on board fisheries surveillance ships at the site said at 2:15pm they saw a Chinese reconnaissance plane coded CMS B3536 flying overhead the Vietnamese vessels, at a height of only 100m above the water surface.

The reporters also spotted two Chinese minesweepers about 18.5 miles from the rig’s site.

During the day, China maintained 110-118 ships, including five military ships, around the rig. Chinese coast guard ships and tugboats sped up and approached Vietnamese ships as near as 20-50m. They stood ready to fire water cannons into and ram Vietnamese vessels to keep the vessels at a distance of 10-12 nautical miles from the rig.

Besides, Chinese fishing ships escorted by coast guard ship 46102 formed a line to block Vietnamese fishing boats from undertaking their normal catching activities at the traditional ground near the rig.

Vietnamese law enforcement ships continued to try to approach the rig to conduct their mission.

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, 60 nautical miles deep inside Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.-VNA