Tuesday, June 10, 2014

China Accuses Vietnam of Ramming Ships to Stop Rig


By AUSTIN RAMZY JUNE 9, 2014 4:57 AM

Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesVietnamese video showing a Chinese Coast Guard ship chasing a Vietnamese vessel near a Chinese oil rig on June 1. China says that Vietnam is the real aggressor and that Chinese vessels have been rammed 1,416 times in recent weeks.

China says that Vietnamese ships have rammed Chinese vessels 1,416 times since a dispute over a Chinese oil rig in the South China Sea flared up in May and that Vietnam has used “frogmen” to attempt to disrupt China’s controversial exploratory drilling operations.

Those assertions, in a lengthy statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that reiterates China’s claims to islands in the South China Sea, were released on Sunday along with documentation that China says shows that Vietnam previously recognized China’s claim to the Spratly and Paracel islands, two groups of islets in the South China Sea.

In recent days China and Vietnam have each sought to portray the other side as the aggressor in the standoff between the two countries’ fishing boats and government vessels. Last week, Vietnam released video of a May 26 incident that it said showed a larger Chinese fishing boat ramming a smaller, wooden-hulled Vietnamese fishing boat, causing it to sink. On Thursday, Vietnamsaid that China had damaged 12 Vietnamese fishing boats, 19 fisheries enforcement vessels and five coast guard vessels since the dispute began.

The Chinese statement released Sunday said that Vietnam “sent frogmen and other underwater agents to the area, and dropped large numbers of obstacles, including fishing nets and floating objects, in the waters.” While it gave no further details about the alleged saboteurs, it suggested that the maneuvering may have extended beyond the spraying of water hoses and ramming of ships.

China’s statement also included a lengthy discussion of historical evidence to its claims in the area. It put particular focus on statements from Vietnam, including a 1958 diplomatic note by the prime minister of North Vietnam, a 1972 Vietnamese atlas and a 1974 Vietnamese textbook for ninth graders that show the Paracel and Spratly islands as Chinese territory.

Vietnamese state news outlets have said that China took that 1958 note out of the political context of the time that it was written, when North Vietnam was a fledgling state in the midst of a civil war with U.S.-backed South Vietnam and wanted to ensure the support of China, its Communist ally.

In 1974, China, which controlled the main northern islands of the Paracels, took over the southern part of the archipelago in a short naval conflict with South Vietnam. China’s $1 billion oil rig, Haiyang Shiyou, is about 17 miles from the farthest southwest islet of the Paracels and 120 miles off the Vietnamese coast. China’s Foreign Ministry said that although the exclusive economic zones of the area had not been delineated, “these waters will never become Vietnam’s” exclusive economic zones.

Last week, the Group of 7, an association of leading free-market democracies, said it was “deeply concerned by tensions” in the East China Sea and South China Sea. It called on all parties to pursue their claims within international law and not to resolve them through force or intimidation.

http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/09/china-accuses-vietnam-of-ramming-ships-to-stop-rig/?ref=world

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