China Blames Vietnam for Collisions, Calls for Talks

Joseph Keefe
Thursday, May 08, 2014

China says Vietnam intentionally collided with its ships in disputed waters. Official says no reason to suspend oil rig operations, demands Vietnam withdraw. The dispute tests Vietnam's uneasy ties with neighbor. Separately, Vietnam stock markets tumble on fears of conflict.

China accused Vietnam on Thursday of intentionally colliding with its ships in the South China Sea, but called for talks to end a bitter row sparked by Beijing's parking of a giant oil rig in contested waters.

A senior foreign ministry official in Beijing demanded that Vietnam withdraw its ships after its southern neighbour asserted that Chinese vessels used water cannon and rammed eight of its vessels at the weekend near the rig. Hanoi said two vessels were badly damaged and six people were wounded in the worst setback to ties between the two Communist nations in years.

China said the drilling operations were being carried out in its territory and it had acted with the "utmost restraint" in using water cannons in response to rammings it blamed on Vietnam.

Yi Xianliang, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs, said China had only sent civilian vessels to the area while Hanoi sent several armed ships.

"Our aim, our only aim, is to guarantee our reasonable, legal, normal drilling operations," Yi said, adding China had no choice but to increase its security measures in response to what he said was Vietnam's provocations.

"The operations by China in the waters off Triton Island in the Paracel Islands are China's sovereign right and have nothing to do with Vietnam," he told reporters at a hastily-arranged press briefing, referring to the part of the South China Sea where the rig has been operating.

China has parked about 80 ships around the rig, Vietnamese officials have said, adding that seven of them were military. Its foreign ministry has shown reporters what it said were video clips of Chinese ships hitting Vietnamese Seaguard vessels.

"We don't care about what China said," Ngo Ngoc Thu, vice commandant of Vietnam's coast guard, told Reuters on Thursday.

"We have been only doing our job which is protecting our territory and sovereignty. We only sent ships following the laws but China has missile ships supporting its civilian ships."

Yi's comments were a departure from earlier remarks by Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping, who said he believed there had been no "clash" at sea, although he said he did not have detailed knowledge of what had happened.

China was willing to try and resolve the issue with Vietnam via talks, but Hanoi had to withdraw its ships, Yi added.

"We can appropriately resolve this issue. We have the ability, the confidence and the wisdom to do so," he said.

The two Communist nations have sought to put aside border disputes and memories of a brief border war in 1979. Vietnam is usually careful about comments against China, for which it relies on for political support and bilateral trade that surpassed $50 billion in 2013.

Still, Hanoi has strongly condemned the operation of the drilling rig, the first such action by Beijing in contested waters, and told the owners, China's state-run oil company CNOOC, to remove it.

LEGAL ACTION


Hanoi has also hinted at international legal action and said it had requested dialogue with China's leadership, but was awaiting a response.

Daniel Russel, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific, reiterated Washington's concerns about "dangerous conduct and intimidation by vessels" in the disputed area. He met senior Vietnamese leaders on Thursday and said the row had been discussed at length.

"It's fair to say both Vietnam and China have rights to claim sovereignty over the Paracels (islands)," Russel told reporters in Hanoi.

"It is not for the U.S. to say which position is stronger. It's within the rights of the United States and the international community to call all parties to address the dispute in a peaceful way."

The row with its neighbour sent Vietnam's stocks markets plummeting on Thursday. The benchmark VN Index in Ho Chi Minh City closed down 5.9 percent, its biggest one-day fall in nearly 13 years, while the smaller Hanoi bourse dropped 6.4 percent, its biggest slump since May 2010.

The row comes days after U.S. President Barack Obama visited Asia to underline his commitment to allies including Japan and the Philippines, both locked in territorial disputes with China.

Obama, promoting a strategic "pivot" towards the Asia-Pacific, also visited South Korea and Malaysia, but not China. Washington has been trying to court Vietnam as a new ally in the region with trade and military incentives, ostensibly to lessen Hanoi's uneasy dependence on Beijing.

However, regional military and diplomatic sources who have been briefed on U.S. navy movements said Washington had not deployed any warships close to the disputed area, although routine surveillance flights over the South China Sea were on-going.

Tensions are also brewing in another part of the sea, with Beijing demanding that the Philippines release a Chinese fishing boat and its crew seized on Tuesday off Half Moon Shoal in the Spratly Islands.

Philippine police said the boat and its crew were seized for hunting sea turtles, which are protected under local laws.

 

By Ben Blanchard and Nguyen Phuong Linh

Maritime Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter June 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Finance

Baltic Index Rises for Fifth Consecutive Session

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, rose on Tuesday for a fifth straight session on stronger demand across all vessel segments.

Singapore Exchange, Baltic Exchange Continue Transaction Talks

Singapore Exchange (SGX) has agreed with the Baltic Exchange Limited (Baltic Exchange) to extend the period of exclusive discussions regarding a cash offer for

Hanjin to Return 38 Vessels Next Year

Hanjin Shipping is planning to return a total of 38 chartered vessels once their contracts end as part of its restructuring efforts, reports the Korea Herald. A

Maritime Security

Russia, US Blame Each Other for Maritime Incident

Russia and the United States gave contradictory accounts on Tuesday of an incident involving the two countries' navies in the Mediterranean Sea on June 17, each

Red River Closed after Barge Grounding

The Red River was closed Sunday from mile marker 40 to mile marker 42, after a barge reportedly ran aground and was protruding into the channel near mile marker 41, according to the U.

Chemical Tanker Runs Aground off Alaska

A 599-foot Norway flagged chemical tanker Champion Ebony ran aground near Nunivak Island, Alaska on June 24.   U.S. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders

Coast Guard

Red River Closed after Barge Grounding

The Red River was closed Sunday from mile marker 40 to mile marker 42, after a barge reportedly ran aground and was protruding into the channel near mile marker 41, according to the U.

Tanker Crewman Medevaced off Virginia

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an ailing crew member Saturday from a tanker off Virginia Beach.   Coast Guard watchstanders at the 5th District Command Center

Chemical Tanker Runs Aground off Alaska

A 599-foot Norway flagged chemical tanker Champion Ebony ran aground near Nunivak Island, Alaska on June 24.   U.S. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders

Maritime Safety

Russia, US Blame Each Other for Maritime Incident

Russia and the United States gave contradictory accounts on Tuesday of an incident involving the two countries' navies in the Mediterranean Sea on June 17, each

Essberger Fleet Moves to Marlink’s Sealink VSAT Service

The Hamburg headquartered John T. Essberger (JTE) Group will migrate the primary communication systems of its entire fleet to Sealink, Marlink’s global maritime broadband VSAT service.

Silver Ships Delivers Fire/Rescue Boat

Silver Ships, Inc. has recently delivered a 34-foot custom designed and purpose-built all-welded aluminum fire/rescue boat to the Islip Fire District on Long Island, N.

Eye on the Navy

Russia, US Blame Each Other for Maritime Incident

Russia and the United States gave contradictory accounts on Tuesday of an incident involving the two countries' navies in the Mediterranean Sea on June 17, each

This Day In Naval History: June 28

1776 - Army Col. William Moultries' troops defend Sullivans Island and Charleston, S.C. from an attack by British Commodore Sir Peter Parker and his fleet during the American Revolution.

US Navy Accepts delivery of 7th Austal EPF

Austal USA’s Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) team finalized the delivery of USNS Carson City (EPF 7) to the U.S. Navy during a small document-signing event held onboard the ship on June 24, 2016.

Government Update

Russia, US Blame Each Other for Maritime Incident

Russia and the United States gave contradictory accounts on Tuesday of an incident involving the two countries' navies in the Mediterranean Sea on June 17, each

China's Robust Crude Oil Imports Mask Changing Fuel Dynamics

China is a bigger concern for crude oil and products markets than the current worries about the British vote to leave the European Union.   While the news media

EU to Accept Antitrust Offer from Maersk, MSC, 13 Others

World No.1 container liner Maersk, Swiss peer MSC and 13 other shipping firms are set to escape possible penalties as EU antitrust regulators plan to accept their offer to end a five-year probe,

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.0990 sec (10 req/sec)