Chinese marine surveillance ships violate Vietnam’s sovereignty

Chinese marine surveillance vessels on May 26 violated the sovereignty of Vietnam's territorial waters, causing economic damage and hindering the operations of the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam). 

This information was given by PetroVietnam Deputy General Director Do Van Hau while granting an interview to the press in Hanoi on May 27. 

According to Hau, in implementing the group’s oil and gas exploration and exploitation programme in 2011, the PetroVietnam Technical Service Corporation (PTSC), an affiliate of PetroVietnam, dispatched the seismic survey ship Binh Minh 02 to conduct seismic surveys at Lots 125, 126, 148 and 149, which lie totally within the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam. 

The Binh Minh 02 ship conducted two surveys on these areas, the first one in 2010 and the second one starting on March 17, 2011, he said, adding that the surveys have been implemented smoothly and the Binh Minh 02 ship has performed its tasks competently. 

However, at 5:05am on May 26, the Binh Minh 02 ship’s radar detected a strange vessel moving quickly towards the survey area and five minutes later it also saw two other ships approaching. The three ships were then identified as marine surveillance vessels of China which were moving into the survey area without warning. 

At 5:58am, the Chinese marine surveillance ships ran through the survey area, only 120 nautical miles from the Dai Lanh cape in the central province of Phu Yen, an area totally belonging to the territorial waters of Vietnam’s sovereignty, and cut the Binh Minh 02 ship’s exploration cables. 

Hau added that the three Chinese marine surveillance vessels hindered the normal operations of the Binh Minh 02 seismic ship and then threatened the Binh Minh 02 ship, saying that the Vietnamese ship violated China’s sovereignty. 

The Binh Minh 02 ship determinedly rejected the Chinese marine surveillance vessels’ arguments and affirmed that it was operating legally in the territorial waters of Vietnam. 

However, the Chinese ships continued to impede the Binh Minh 02 ship’s operations until they left the survey area at 9:00am on May 26. 

The Binh Minh 02 ship had to stop its work on May 26 to gather in damaged equipment for repairing. Under the instruction of PetroVietnam and PTSC, the Binh Minh 02 repaired the equipment on the spot and resumed its operations by 6:00am on May 27. 

The PetroVietnam leader affirmed that the Chinese marine surveillance vessels’ deep penetration into Vietnam’s territorial waters to sabotage and hinder PetroVietnam’s normal exploration activities was an extremely perverse action that obviously violated Vietnam’s sovereignty right, caused economic damage and obstructed PetroVietnam’s operations. 

He said that PetroVietnam had reported the incident and asked the Vietnamese Government and relevant agencies to take the possible strongest measures protesting against the Chinese side, to demand the Chinese side immediately stop actions that block PetroVietnam’s operations, and to assist the group in implementing its exploration and exploitation tasks. 

PetroVietnam affirmed that seismic survey activities in this area would continue to be conducted normally because the area belongs to Vietnam ’s sovereignty. The group will closely coordinate with relevant agencies to ensure the effective and safe operations of the Binh Minh 02 ship. 

The Binh Minh 02 seismic ship, invested by PetroVietnam in 2008, has carried out many surveys on the continental shelf of Vietnam ’s sovereignty.