On 5 June 2014, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam hosted an International Press Conference on the situation in the East Sea. Followings are the remarks, statements and reports made by competent government officials at the Conference:
Remarks by Mr. Tran Duy Hai, Vice Chairman of the National Boundary Committee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
It has been over a month since China illegally installed its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 within Viet Nam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone. Viet Nam has made efforts to communicate with China under different forms and at different levels to demand the latter end all acts that have violated Viet Nam’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction, respect Viet Nam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracels) Islands, and immediately withdraw the oil rig and its escort vessels before both sides can work out measures to stabilize the situation and control maritime issues between them. To date, Viet Nam has made more than 30 communications of all types with China. The Vietnamese maritime law enforcement vessels have also exercised utmost restraint in demanding China immediately withdraw the oil rig and escort vessels from the Vietnamese waters. The international community has expressed appreciation of the manner in which Viet Nam exercised self-restraint and handled the situation, and at the same time, condemned China’s wrongdoings.
Notwithstanding the efforts and goodwill of Viet Nam, China continued its illegal activities and responded negatively by slandering and blaming Viet Nam for the tension. More dangerously, China escalated the tension on the field by relocating the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 to a new location at 15-33.38 N/111-34.62 E, which is 60 nautical miles deep inside Viet Nam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone. China also increased the number of the escort fleet around the oil rig illegally deployed in the Vietnamese waters. At high time, there were up to 140 Chinese ships, including military ships of various types (missile frigates, fast attack missile crafts, anti-submarine crafts, landing crafts and jet fighters). Chinese ships have surrounded, rammed and fired water cannon at Vietnamese civilian law enforcement ships, which are on duty in the waters within Viet Nam’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction. The attacks have injured Vietnamese fishery control officers on board, and damaged several Vietnamese maritime law enforcement vessels. In particular, on 26 May 2014 Chinese ships rammed and sank the Vietnamese fishing boat DNa 90152, which was conducting normal fishing activity in Viet Nam’s exclusive economic zone, about 17 nautical miles from the oil rig, thus escalating the tension. More dangerously, Chinese vessels inhumanely attempted to prevent Vietnamese ships from rescuing the fishermen of the sunken boat. On 1 June 2014, Chinese ships again rammed and broke holes in the on-duty Vietnamese Maritime Police ship CSB 2016. Such acts by China have exacerbated the tension in the East Sea, seriously threatening peace, stability, maritime safety and security in the region, causing grave concerns among the international community and anger among the Vietnamese. Viet Nam has made strong protests against China’s acts.
On 23 May 2014, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent the Second Note Verbale to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanding the latter withdraw the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 before both sides can negotiate to define the legal status of the location where China installed the oil rig. To date, China has yet to respond the Viet Nam’s Note Verbale.
On 4 June 2014, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs the Third Note Verbale demanding the latter seriously observe international law, immediately end acts of violating Viet Nam’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction within Viet Nam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, immediately withdraw the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 and its escort vessels from the Vietnamese waters, and not repeat similar actions in the future. The third Note Verbale from Viet Nam also demanded China settle maritime disputes as well as the issue of China’s illegal installation of the oil rig in Viet Nam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone by negotiations or other peaceful measures in conformity with international law, including the UNCLOS 1982.
Viet Nam hopes that the international community, the media agencies worldwide will continue to raise their fair and impartial voice protesting China’s wrongdoings in defence of justice and righteousness.
On-The-Field Developments Since China’S Illegal Deployment Of The Oil Rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 Within The Vietnamese Waters
(Presented by Mr. Ngo Ngoc Thu, Vice Commander and Chief of Staff of the Vietnamese Coast Guard)
I. On the Chinese side
1. Regarding the Oil Rig Haiyang Shiyou- 981
- At 5 am on 2 May 2014, China installed the oil rig at 15029’08’’N – 111012’06’’E. This location is 17.3 nautical miles South of Tri Ton (Triton) Island and 80 miles deep inside Viet Nam’s continental shelf, or 119 nautical miles from of Ly Son Island.
- At 5 am, 27 May, Vietnamese Coast Guard noticed the oil rig was moving in the East – Northeast direction and stopped at 11:15, at 21.86 nautical miles to the E-NE of the original location, 143 nautical miles East of Ly Son Island and 25 nautical miles South East of Tri Ton Island.
- On 1 June, the oil rig was relocated slightly and settled at 15033’21’’N – 111034’35’’E. (approximately 140m to the West – Northwest of the former location.
Until today, the location of the oil rig is generally settled, deep within the continental shelf and the EEZ of Viet Nam.
2. The escort force of the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981
- Everyday, China employs from 30 to 137 escort vessels, including 6 types of warship such as: missile destroyer (#169, 170), missile frigate (# 523,534,571, 572), fast attack craft (# 752, 753), anti-submarine patrol ship (# 787, 789), minesweeping vessel (# 839, 840, 842, 843), and amphibious landing ship (# 989, 998, 999). Besides, there are from 33 to 42 ships including coast guard, coastal patrol, maritime surveillance and Fisheries Law Enforcement ships, along with 9 to 11 towing and service vessels, 20-22 transport vessels, 1-3 oil tankers and 15-60 fishing boats. At the peak time, China employed a total of 137 vessels of various types in one day to guard the oil rig.
- The number of escort and service fleet remains fairly stable at 70 to 80 ships but the number of fishing boats ranges between 15 and 60. On 27 May, 9 warships were deployed to escort the oil rig as it was moving, including the missile destroyer (#170), missile frigates( #523, 534, 571, 572), anti-submarine patrol ships (#787 and 789) and minesweeping vessels (#840 and 843).
- China constantly uses surveillance planes, helicopters (#8321, 3808, 3586, 9401, B.7112, B.7115), early warning aircrafts (KJ200-9421) and reconnaissance aircraft class TU154 to hover over Vietnamese ships from 100-1000m heights.
- The Chinese escort fleet is divided into 3 rings: the inner ring includes 10-15 ships at 1-1.5 nautical miles from the rig, the middle ring consists of 40-45 ships at 4.5-5 nautical miles from the rig and the outer ring includes 25-35 ships at 10-12 nautical miles from the oil rig. China constantly deployed 9 to 12 ships to closely follow Vietnamese vessels, ready to hinder and collide with Vietnamese vessels at 10-12 nautical away from the oil rig.
- Chinese escort ships are ready to cut off, rear-block, approach the side and collide with Vietnamese ships when the latters approach to voice protests against the violation of the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981. Chinese ships also rammed, fired water cannon to damage Vietnamese ships and their equipment. Chinese ships even used high frequency sonar systems and high-lumen light to negatively affect the mental and physical health of the Vietnamese crew. The details are as follows:
+ At 4 pm, 26 May, at 15016’42’’N – 111001’30’’E (16.5 nautical miles Southwest of the oil rig) the Vietnamese fishing boat # DNa-90152 was rammed and sunk by the Chinese fishing boat #11209. The 10 Vietnamese fishermen on board were flipped into the sea and were luckily rescued by Vietnamese boats.
+ At 4:23 pm, 1 June, at 12 nautical miles West-Southwest of the oil rig, Chinese Coast Guard vessel #46105 fired water cannon and rammed Vietnamese Coast Guard vessel #2016, breaking 4 holes in the right side of the latter, at 40-50 cm above its water line. 7 rail posts and 1 air vent pipe of the Vietnamese ship were also broken.
- There were about 40-45 Chinese fishing boats, divided into two groups, constantly obstructing the fishing operations of Vietnamese fishing boat at their traditional Hoang Sa fishing ground at 30 to 40 nautical miles South West and West-South West of the oil rig.
Since 3 May, Chinese escort vessels have been ramming and firing water cannon at Vietnamese vessels, causing injuries to 12 Vietnamese fishery control officers and damage to 24 Vietnamese law enforcement vessels (5 Coast Guard vessels and 19 Fishery Control vessels).
+ The five damaged Vietnamese Coast Guard vessels (# 4032, 4033, 2012, 2013, 2016).
II. Vietnamese maritime law enforcement forces
- They promptly showed up at the site to perform law enforcement duties and prevent the violation of Vietnamese waters by China’s oil rig and escort fleet. The main measures include approaching the Chinese oil-rig and escort vessels to broadcast reassertions of Vietnamese sovereignty and demand them leave the Vietnamese waters, filming and taking pictures to document the activities of China’s oil rig and escort vessels as evidence. Vietnamese Coast Guard vessels have repeatedly approached China’s oil rig to demand them leave Viet Nam’s waters. The message was in Vietnamese, Chinese and English.
- After a month, despite the disruptive and destructive activities of Chinese vessels, including ramming and firing water cannon, the Vietnamese Coast Guard and Fishery Control forces continued with the tactic of avoiding collision with Chinese vessels. Vietnamese civilian law enforcement vessels did not ram or fire water cannon at Chinese escort and fishing vessels, but merely used speakers to demand China withdraw its oil-rig and escort ships out of the Vietnamese waters. The Vietnamese law enforcement forces continued to resolutely defend national sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Viet Nam in its EEZ and continental shelf.
Vietnamese Fishery Control Force Enforcing Maritime Law in the Vietnamese Waters Where China Illegal Installed the Oil Rig Haiyang Shiyou-981
(Presented by Mr. Ha Le– Deputy Chief of the Fishery Control Administration at the International Press Conference on 5 June 2014 in Hanoi)
Upon detecting that China’s installation of the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 has violated Viet Nam’s sovereignty and seriously disrupted the daily legitimate fishing operation of Vietnamese fishermen at their traditional fishing grounds in Viet Nam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands, the Vietnamese Fishery Control and Coast Guard forces have been dispatched to the site. The Vietnamese forces broadcasted reassertions of the Vietnamese sovereignty, demanded China withdraw the oil rig from the Vietnamese waters, performed their maritime law enforcement duties and assisted the Vietnamese fishermen.
The Chinese ships surrounded, intimidated, rammed and attacked the Vietnamese Fishery Control boats with water cannon and hard objects.
Nineteen out of twenty Vietnamese Fishery Control boats at the site were rammed and/or attacked with water cannon by the Chinese vessels. As the result, twelve Vietnamese Fishery Control officers were injured and various equipment and properties on board (deck-guard, safety rail, bridge, bridge glass-window, navigation radar, compass, etc.) were heavily damaged.
More dangerously, Chinese ships intimidated and sank Vietnamese fishing boats legally operating in the Vietnamese traditional fishing grounds.
Now is the peak of fishing season – the major harvest of the year for Vietnamese fishermen. Therefore, fishermen from many localities, particularly those in the Central region of Viet Nam, have been persistently stationed at sea to fish in their traditional grounds.
Since 7 May 2014, during their normal operation within the traditional fishing grounds in Viet Nam’s Hoang Sa archipelago, twelve Vietnamese fishing boats and the fishermen have been obstructed by Chinese law enforcement forces and fishing vessels and suffered from property damage and violence. The details are as follows:
On 7th May 2014: Fishing boat QNg-96416-TS, while fishing in the sea area approximately 15 nautical miles South from the Linh Con (Lincoln) island (of the Hoang Sa archipelago) and 70 nautical miles East of the Chinese oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981, was chased, fired flares and thrown hammers and bolts at by Chinese warship 1241. A Chinese fishery administration vessel also chased and rammed straight into the rear of fishing boat QNg-96416-TS.
On 12th May 2014: fishing boat QTr-91119-TS of Mr. Bui Xuan Tan and fishing boatQTr-96868-TS of Mr. Vo Van Huu from Quang Tri province, while operating in the Hoang Sa archipelago area, were chased after by Chinese vessels; their fishing nets were damaged, fishing instruments and catch on-deck were seized.
On May 16th 2014: Fishing boat QNg-90205-TS operating in Viet Nam’s Hoang Sa sea area was attacked by Chinese Fishery Administration ship 306. Two fishermen, namely Nguyen Huyen Le Anh (aged 30) and Nguyen Tan Hai (aged 24), suffered from serious injuries after being beaten up by staff on Chinese Fishery Administration ships. Chinese fishery administration officers also destroyed the Vietnamese fishermen’s properties, stole their fishing tools and catch.
On 17th May 2014: fishing boat QNg-96011-TS operating in the Hoang Sa sea area (31 nautical miles from Tri Ton (Triton) island) was attacked by Chinese law enforcement ship 21102. On-deck tools, including boat baskets, bridge glass-window, and aero-tube, were damaged; several tools (fish-finder, I-com and positioning device) and 400kg of catch were seized.
A shocking incident occurred on 26th May 2014: Fishing boat DNa-90152-TS with 10 fishermen on board while operating at 17 nautical miles from the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 was rammed and sunk by Chinese vessel 11209. It was obviously a deliberate act as the Chinese vessel 11209 had been chasing, smashing the Vietnamese ship until the latter flipped over. Worse still, Chinese ships attempted to prevent Vietnamese ships from rescuing the 10 Vietnamese fishermen of the sunken boat. However, the Vietnamese ships finally managed to rescue the Vietnamese fishermen. The fishing boat DNa-90152-TS has been pulled back onto land for repair.
The Vietnamese Fishery Control vessels have exercised self-restraint and avoided collision with Chinese ships. The Vietnamese vessels have been determined to peacefully broadcast reassertions of Vietnamese sovereignty and demand China withdraw from the Vietnamese waters, and at the same time, working closely with other Vietnamese competent authorities to protect the Vietnamese fishermen.
The Vietnamese Fishery Control force will continue its law enforcement duties at sea and remain determined to defend national sovereignty and protect the Vietnamese fishermen in operations at the Vietnamese fishing grounds.