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On June 8, the Chinese Foreign Ministry posted an online entry on “operations of Haiyang Shiyou-981 – Viet Nam’s provocation and China’s view”. One day later, Chinese deputy ambassador to the UN Wang Min sent Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a position paper on China’s view on the rig and asked the UN chief to publicise the letter to the 193 UN member countries.
In the document, China brazenly attests that the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has conducted seismic surveys in the area for 10 years and the deployment of the rig is a normal follow-up step in the exploration in the area which falls under China’s sovereign right and jurisdiction.
However, the world understands that in fact China on May 2 illegally positioned its drilling rig deep inside Viet Nam’s waters, seriously violating the sovereign right and jurisdiction of Viet Nam.
China’s version of events includes the clearly fabricated account that immediately after China stationed its rig, Viet Nam sent a large number of ships, including armed vessels, and used force to prevent Chinese escorting ships and civil vessels from conducting their operations.
The paper also slanders Viet Nam by saying it is deploying frogmen, divers and floating items and fishing nets to hinder the activities of the Chinese ships in the area where the rig stands. It alleged groundlessly that at 5am of June 7, up to 63 Vietnamese ships attempted to ram against Chinese vessels 1,416 times to break their circle in order to approach the rig.
China’s lies are truly shameful. The world knows Viet Nam is a far smaller country with far fewer resources than China. Viet Nam's law enforcement ships at the site are fewer and smaller than China’s ships, and it is highly difficult to imagine that these Vietnamese vessels, including fishing boats mostly made of wood, can “intentionally” ram against Chinese ships 1,416 times.
It’s clearly that this is a fabrication, and this has been proved as much by foreign reporters on Vietnamese ships, who have witnessed themselves tens of China’s coast guard and fisheries surveillance vessels encircling and firing water cannons at a Vietnamese ship.
Continuing in the same vein, the Chinese side slanders Viet Nam by saying that the actions by Viet Nam seriously infringed the sovereignty, sovereign right and jurisdiction of China, threatened safety of staff and the rig and violated international law, including the UN Charter.
In fact, China is the violator to important regulations in the UN Charter, particularly Article 1 on the targets and missions of the UN as well as member states, and Article 2 on a range of major principles, including respecting national sovereignty, banning the use of force to threaten in international relations and solving all international disputes by peaceful measures.
With its current actions in the East Sea, China has violated these major principles.
In addition, China audaciously said it has kept restraint and used necessary defensive measures, and that it sent ships to protect the rig and ensure safety for production at sea and safety of navigation. China also wrongly claimed that since May 2, it has contacted over 30 times with Viet Nam at all levels but Viet Nam has ignored requests to end its “provocative” acts and instead continued escalating tensions.
So, what is the truth at the site? Since it illegally placed its rig deep into Viet Nam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, China has mobilised a large number of coast guard, fisheries surveillance, fishing and military ships and tugboats from the Nanhai Fleet, up to 140 units at peak times. Chinese ships have deliberately rammed and attacked Vietnamese vessels.
On May 26, with support from four coast guard ships, tens of Chinese fishing ships sank a Vietnamese fishing boat operating in the traditional fishing grounds in Viet Nam’s waters.
Most recently, at 2pm of June 7, the Chinese tugboat coded 281 rammed the side of Vietnamese fisheries surveillance ship KN-62 at high speed.
At the area where the Chinese rig is illegally standing, China maintains about 120 ships, including 40 coast guard vessels, 30 cargo liners and tugboats, 45 fishing ships and four military ones. It also deploys a Y-8 scout aircraft to protect the rig.
To prevent Vietnamese vessels from getting close to the rig, Chinese ships in groups take provocative acts against Vietnamese ones. They are ready to ram, blast out siren and fire water cannons at Vietnamese fisheries surveillance and coast guard vessels.
Speaking at the government meeting on May 29, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung stated that since the incident occurred, Viet Nam has used diplomatic channels to contact with China on over 30 occasions. Each time, he said Viet Nam has pointed out the illegality and wrongfulness of China’s actions and demanded that it remove its rig from Viet Nam’s waters. However, the PM said that China has failed to respond to these messages, but instead offered lies to the international community.
Also in China’s position paper to the UN and the entry on its foreign ministry’s website, Beijing adduced a series of so-called historical pieces of evidence to prove its sovereignty over Viet Nam’s Hoang Sa archipelago, which they call Xisha. However, China “forgot” to mention its use of force to occupy the eastern part of Hoang Sa archipelago, belonging to Viet Nam, in 1956 and the western part in 1974.