China sent a warplane and some spying aircraft on Sunday to Vietnam’s waters where Beijing has illegally placed its Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig since early May, VnExpress newspaper correspondents reported from the scene.
These planes hovered many rounds above the Vietnamese marine enforcement law force’s vessels in the area to spy on and threat them.
At 9:00 am, a fixed-wing plane came from the northwest direction and flew at an altitude of 1,500-2,000 meters.
At 12:30 pm, another spying plane arrived from north-northeast and hovered for two rounds above Vietnamese vessels.
At the same time, a Chinese warplane appeared and flew at 1,500-2,000 meters, the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department reported.
Meanwhile, 115 Chinese ships were deployed in the waters to guard the illegal drilling platform and drive away local vessels, the department said.
These foreign ships include 44 coast guard craft, 16 transport boats, 33 fishing ships, and five military vessels.
Despite threats from these foreign watercrafts, which were ready to ram or blast local ships with high-powered water cannons, the Vietnamese marine enforcement force’s ships maintained their operations in areas about 10 nautical miles from the rig and demanded that Haiyang Shiyou 981 and its escorting ships leave the Vietnamese waters.
Throughout Sunday, a large number of Chinese iron-clad fishing vessels, with the support of two coast guard boats and two fishery logistics service ships, often got close to local fishing boats to scare them away from their traditional fishing ground about 42-45 nautical miles west-southwest of the rig.
However, local fishing vessels tried to maintain operations there, with the protection of fisheries surveillance ships, the department said.
Beijing has still maintained the drilling rig and its guarding ships within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf since May 1 despite vehement protest from Hanoi.
These vessels have rammed or fired their water cannons at Vietnamese ships, including coast guard, fisheries surveillance and fishing boats.
Such attacks have so far injured 15 fisheries surveillance officers together with two fishermen, as well as damaged 27 boats belonging to Vietnam’s marine law enforcement and Coast Guard forces and seven local fishing boats, the department reported.