China’s oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 that has been placed illegally in Vietnam’s waters since May 1 moved 23 nautical miles east on Tuesday to a new location, which is still within the Vietnamese territorial waters, the Vietnam Coast Guard (VCG) reported.
The new location of the rig is at 15°33’38’’ North latitude and 111°34’62’’ East longitude, about 25 nautical miles east-southeast of Tri Ton Island, part of Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago in the East Vietnam Sea, said Colonel Luong Chien Thang, deputy political chairman of the High Command of VCG.
It is about 150 nautical miles from Ly Son Island off the central Vietnamese province of Quang Ngai.
Like its former location, the new venue of the rig is still within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, the VCG said.
In fact, the rig began moving on May 23 and at 10:00 am on May 27 it was placed in the new location with the support of two tugboats, Colonel Thang said.
The same day, China’s Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) said that the rig has completed the first phase of its oil and gas exploration mission in the Vietnamese waters and has now entered the second phase.
The Chinese agency also issued a warning that vessels should be careful when traveling through the area where the rig is located, as recently there have been collisions between fishing boats and cargo ships in the waters.
Throughout Tuesday, the Chinese vessels, including warships, that are guarding the rig continuously, approached to threaten the Vietnamese coast guard and fisheries resources surveillance ships, the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.
These foreign ships often directed their guns at local vessels whenever they faced each other, VNA said.
Regarding the movement of the rig, Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Le Hai Binh on Tuesday said, “The new location where the Chinese oil rig has been moved to according to the MSA’s marine notice on May 27 is within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. The operation of the rig at this location violates Vietnam’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction.”
Binh stressed that “Vietnam strongly protests the illegal operation of the rig and demands that China remove the platform and its guarding vessels from the Vietnamese waters immediately and not repeat similar actions in the future.”
The same day, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called in a representative of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi to deliver a diplomatic note protesting China’s attacks on Vietnamese fishermen in the East Vietnam Sea.
Since early May 2014, Chinese fishing boats have continuously attacked Vietnamese fishing ships in the Vietnamese waters in the East Vietnam Sea, threatening the lives of fishermen and causing heavy damage to their property, the ministry said, citing reports from Vietnamese concerned agencies.
More seriously, reports said that the Chinese side even assaulted Vietnamese fishermen, severely injuring them.
Such attacks have violated Vietnam’s sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in the East Vietnam Sea, gone against the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Vietnam Sea (DOC), and escalated tension in the sea area, Binh said.
He demanded that China not repeat similar acts in the future and pay compensation to the affected fishermen