Oct 25, 2019 / 20:59

China survey ship withdraws from Vietnam waters

The Hanoitimes - Chinese Haiyang Dizhi 8 headed away after more than three months intruding into Vietnamese waters.

Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8, which was deployed within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea over the past three months, has left the area on Thursday morning [October 24]. 
Le Thi Thu Hang, Spokeswoman of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photo: Baoquocte
Le Thi Thu Hang, Spokeswoman of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photo: Baoquocte

The vessel headed away from Vietnam’s territorial waters towards China under the escort of at least two other Chinese ships, according to data from Marine Traffic, a website that tracks vessel movements, Reuters reported.

Responding to the news, Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Friday that “all activities within Vietnamese waters, stipulated in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982), without Vietnam’s consent, are deemed violations of Vietnamese sovereignty and jurisdiction.”

“Vietnam demands related parties respect the Vietnamese sovereignty and cause no recurrence,” Hang noted. 

Chinese oil survey vessel and escorts first entered Vietnam’s EEZ in early July. The ships headed away for a week in early August then returned until October 24, harassing Vietnam’s long-standing oil operations. 

Chinese coastguard ships have also been operating within the oil block since the standoff began, the Marine Traffic data showed.

The Vietnamese foreign ministry has repeatedly accused the vessel and its escorts of violating Vietnam’s sovereignty and has demanded that China remove its ships from the area.

“China doesn’t want any non-ASEAN companies to drill for oil in the South China Sea,” Ha Hoang Hop, a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Reuters.

China only withdrew the vessel shortly after the oilrig Hakuryu-5 completed its drilling at Vietnam’s Block 06.1, which is operated by Russian state oil firm Rosneft, said Hop, who is also a visiting senior fellow at the Singapore-based ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

“China is determined to pressure Vietnam to end joint oil exploration and production with foreign partners in the area,” he said.

The Chinese illegal activities have caught protest from Vietnamese people. Top leaders namely Communist Party Chief and State President Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc have expressed concerns about the situation. 

Both Trong and Phuc said Vietnam will do by all means to protect its sovereignty and should “never compromise” on its sovereignty and territorial integrity.