A statement on the China Foreign Ministry’s website, claims that as of 5 pm on June 7, 2014 there were as many as 63 Vietnamese vessels in the area near the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea at the peak, attempting to break through China’s cordon and ramming Chinese government ships a total of 1,416 times. An extract from the lengthy statement follows:
On 2 May 2014, a Chinese company's HYSY 981 drilling rig started its drilling operation inside the contiguous zone of China's Xisha Islands for the purpose of oil and gas exploration. With the first phase of the operation completed, the second phase began on 27 May.
Using frogmen, fishing nets, floating objects and hundreds of boat rammings, Vietnam escalated its harassment of China over Beijing’s legal oil drilling in the South China Sea.
The two locations of operation are 17 nautical miles from both the Zhongjian Island of China's Xisha Islands and the baseline of the territorial waters of Xisha Islands, yet approximately 133 to 156 nautical miles away from the coast of the Vietnamese mainland.
The Chinese company has been conducting explorations in the related waters for the past 10 years, including seismic operations and well site surveys. The drilling operation carried out by HYSY 981 this time is a continuation of the routine process of explorations, and falls well within China's sovereignty and jurisdiction.
The website also carried a photo, shown here, of a document from then-prime minister Pham Van Dong to Chinese premier Zhou Enlai on Sept 14, 1958, that acknowledged China's sovreignty over the Xisha and Nansha islands.
Source: China Foreign Ministry