News / Asia

China Moves Controversial Oil Rig

Chinese coastguard ships give chase to Vietnamese coastguard vessels (not pictured) after they came within 10 nautical miles of the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the South China Sea, July 15, 2014.
Chinese coastguard ships give chase to Vietnamese coastguard vessels (not pictured) after they came within 10 nautical miles of the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the South China Sea, July 15, 2014.
VOA News

China has removed an exploratory rig from disputed waters in the South China Sea, two months after its placement near the Paracel Islands sparked diplomatic tensions with Vietnam.

After finding signs of oil and gas off the coast of the archipelago claimed by both countries, the rig is being towed to the Chinese island of Hainan a month ahead of the announced end-date for drilling.

Wang Zhen, of the China National Petroleum Corporation, said prospecting went as planned despite opposition from Hanoi.

"During the operation, as we've seen from the media reports, Vietnam held a series of protests and made disruptions. We oppose their actions from the angle of production. But we pushed forward our plan smoothly as scheduled and completed the task on time," said Wang.

Hanoi on Wednesday called the rig's placement "completely illegal" and demanded China not repeat the act.

Boundary disputes in one of the world's most heavily navigated waterways created solidarity in recent months between Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam, which all challenge China's maritime claims.

China deployed the $1 billion state-operated oil rig in May, within what Vietnam considers its exclusive economic zone.

Early analysis from the state-owned oil company shows "basic conditions and potential for oil exploration," but Wang Zhen told Chinese state media further testing would depend on what a deeper analysis of data gathered during the last two months shows.

The rig's placement was seen as one of China's boldest yet to advance its wide-reaching maritime claims in the South China Sea, where it also has disputes with Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

In a June letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, China's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Wang Min said Vietnam was violating China's sovereignty and posing a "grave threat" to Chinese workers by disrupting drilling.

Hanoi has accused China of firing water cannons at, and ramming Vietnamese fishing boats, including one that sank. Beijing says Vietnam is the aggressor and that its ships are ramming Chinese vessels.

Vietnam later said it sent its own letter to Ban, demanding Beijing immediately withdraw the oil rig and all other ships, which it said violate Hanoi's sovereignty.

The dispute also led to mass anti-China riots last month in Vietnam, where angry mobs destroyed Chinese-owned factories, killing at least four people, injuring dozens, and forcing the evacuation of thousands of Chinese workers.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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by: william li from: canada
July 17, 2014 9:34 AM
VN should consider Chinas suggestion which is to admit Chinas sovereignty then we share the oil!

south china sea belonged to china since ancient time, and only china has the ability to keep south china sea a safe and free water path. But China is also generous and willing to share all resources under this water!

VN stop being greedyand stupid, lets make the peace deal, it will be good for all countries in the world!


by: Delmonte from: USA
July 16, 2014 8:27 PM
VOA s nothing more than propaganda machine of DC warmger o service MIC n WS.


by: Tuan Nguyen from: Saigon Vietnam
July 16, 2014 6:40 PM
Everyone in Vietnam are praying China attacks VN because they don't want to live with the communist VN


by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
July 16, 2014 2:01 PM
China care less about Vietnam than the USA. That's what the PRC diplomat said in Singapore: China is a big country. That is a fact. Impliedly you ASEAN countries are small countries. USA is a big country. These are facts too. Understood?


by: Chi Le from: USA
July 16, 2014 1:29 PM
This is a China’s perfect plot. In next year, it will bring the rig to the similar position, and Vietnam can oppose the move as what happened in this year. However, the rest of the world will be less interested than because it thinks that China will remove its rig. This is time it only remains Vietnam to fight against China. It is a perfect way to isolate Vietnam from the world to expand. Never forget a China’s 100-year plot is to invade the water regions. Wait to see.

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