July 19th, 2019: Vietnam has called on China to withdraw the oil exploration vessels from disputed waters near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
Recently, both the countries have deployed the coastguard ships in the region as Chinese oil exploration ship entered contested waters near the Spratly Islands.
“Over the last several days, the Chinese survey ship, Haiyang Dizhi 8, and its escorts conducted activities in the southern area of the East Sea that violated Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf,” foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement on Friday, using the Vietnamese term for the South China Sea.
“This area lies entirely within the Vietnamese waters.”
Vietnam has demanded China to stop the “unlawful activities” and that its ships leave Vietnamese waters, she said.
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper reported on July 12 that six “heavily armed” coastguard vessels, two from China and four from Vietnam, had been eyeing each other since the beginning of the month.
Publicly available shipping data confirms the presence of the Chinese oil exploration ship in the disputed waters, near where the Russian oil company Rosneft began drilling on May 12 in a joint venture with Vietnam.
Oil exploration in the South China Sea is a highly fraught issue in both countries, which fought a series of violent disputes between 1974 and 1988 over control of the Spratly and Parcel Islands.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea, including waters within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.