News / Asia

Vietnam, China Trade Barbs Over Oil Rig Dispute

In this photo released by Vietnam Coast Guard, a Chinese ship (L) shoots a water cannon at a Vietnamese vessel (R) while a Chinese Coast Guard ship (C) sails alongside in the South China Sea, off Vietnam's coast,  May 7, 2014.
In this photo released by Vietnam Coast Guard, a Chinese ship (L) shoots a water cannon at a Vietnamese vessel (R) while a Chinese Coast Guard ship (C) sails alongside in the South China Sea, off Vietnam's coast, May 7, 2014.
Marianne Brown
A day after Vietnamese and Chinese vessels were reported sparring near a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea, Beijing said Vietnam continues to send ships to the area, threatening Chinese personnel.

Vietnam’s government made no official statements about the standoff near the Chinese oil rig Thursday, but the country’s state-controlled media provided extensive coverage.

“Vietnam will hit back if Chinese vessels continue ramming Vietnamese ships,” the front page of one of the most popular newspapers Tuoi Tre said.
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Many newspapers highlighted coverage of the spat in international media, laying emphasis on perceived Chinese aggression and Vietnam’s sovereignty claims over the islands.

In Beijing, Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping tried to play down the incident, insisting it was not a “clash” and the countries should be able to resolve it through negotiations.

Cheng said the two sides are friendly neighbors and friendly cooperation is in the fundamental interests of both countries.

'Shocked' by Vietnam

But Yi Xianliang, deputy director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, later told reporters in a special briefing in Beijing that authorities were “shocked” by the Vietnamese behavior and Chinese vessels are taking measures to protect themselves.

Yi said Vietnam has been sending additional vessels to the scene and it has constituted a threat to Chinese personnel.  He said Beijing needs to have a certain level of force to guarantee the smooth operation of the Chinese oil rig.

China announced just last week that it had placed the state-run oil rig near the Paracel Islands, 220 kilometers from Vietnam's shores, an area Hanoi claims as its exclusive economic zone. China asserted the operation is clearly within its territorial waters.

The $1 billion rig is owned by China's state-run CNOOC oil company.

In Washington Wednesday, the State Department said China’s decision to send the oil rig into the disputed waters “is provocative and raises tensions.”

During a visit to Hanoi Thursday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel urged both sides to "refrain from unilateral actions,” adding the global economy is "too fragile to brook the possibility of a crisis that could escalate into conflict."

"Every country has the right to advocate for its position and for its claims to territorial sovereignty. However, the consistent position of the U.S. is that advocacy must be diplomatic and the means for advancing one's claims must be consistent with international law, including the U.N. convention on the law of the sea," Russel said.

Onus is on China

He said the onus is on China to define its claims in a manner that’s consistent with the convention. He said the Vietnamese officials with whom he discussed the issue accepted that the U.S. does not take a position on the relative merits of the sovereignty claims.

“There was no suggestion in any of my meetings on either side on a role for the U.S. military. Had there been one, I would have emphasized the points made by the State Department spokesperson that these issues must be addressed peacefully and in accordance with international law,” Russel said.

In addition to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines also have territorial disputes with Beijing in the oil-rich and strategic South China Sea. The rival claimants accuse China of using increasingly aggressive tactics to defend its territory.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Huy Huynh from: Canada
May 13, 2014 11:00 AM
Long ago the person who established the south- east map have mistaken cited that sea is "South China Sea" and not "East Sea or West sea". That is now reason for China to become legally greedy. I hope this would be the lesson for dictate any individual country on the map. China is growing and dominating starting from SouthEast Asia. They're ready for war. Are Vietnameses ? Fight we died in honor. Don't fight we shall die in slavery. Bring it on...

by: oldlamb from: Guangzhou
May 11, 2014 7:16 AM
Without US’s inciting,without any provocation from Japan and Philippines,and so on.including in the East China sea and the South China Sea.With the growing of Chinese economy and military strength, As is Known no country could own the competence of confrontation to face China 40 years later,regardless of which it invovled,Japan,Philippines or US .They have to contain China’s development as soon as possible.The USA need Japannese help,They have staged a range of farces in the East China sea and the South China Sea recent years.For example,in 2012,Japan government was incited to bought Diaoyu island by US’ government where China and Japan government had agreed to lay aside the controversial island since 1970s.On the pretext of the threat from China,Japan government is going for the right of collective self-defence that it is forbided by Japanese constitution now.
Philippines government is doing the same now.When Philippines marine serveillance ships shot Chinese fishmen, the US’ submarine is following.
This a range of farces was called Untie Watchdogs that allow the watchdogs bite China and provocate China. What if China could not restraint himself,and retaliate to Japan or Philipines?The three countries will stand togather to against China and weaken China as soon as posible.Because they all believe that China could not win their three now. It is the first step of Asia rebalance.

by: aman from: The Earth
May 10, 2014 9:51 PM
One Chinese South China Sea researcher Mr.Li Ling Hua said : " Throughout history of the world, there is no unreal national border on the land nor on the sea. The 9-dashed line in South China Sea is unreal. We-China had drawn the 9-dashed line with no specific longitude and latitude and legal basic".
Let's discuss this statement

by: Mark from: Virginia
May 10, 2014 5:54 PM
for all our supposed intellect and wisdom, we, as human beings are still a flawed species. While we have done away with the claws and fangs of our forebears (if you believe in such stuff) we are still predators at heart. We are savages still, the only predator species that preys even on itself. No other species in the animal kingdom kills its own kind with such reckless abandon.
No matter how kind and giving we say we are, we are all still greedy little bastards deep down inside. No matter how old and mature we think we are, we still cannot 'play' nice with each other and share.
Apes in the jungle are probably facepalming themselves and thinking..."you humans embarrass us."

by: Ivy Huynh from: Vietnam
May 10, 2014 2:00 PM
Dear all my friends in over the world, today I listened to the song 'Heal the World. How much it hurted when I heard the sentence 'heal the world, makes it a better place, 4 u n 4 me n the entire human race'. How can it come true when there is still have a part of human race doesn't want that, they just wanna be the world's leader, not the same level as us. So, there are no laws, no right, nothing can prevent that just because they're rich, large n have modern weapon???

by: Vu from: Vietnam
May 10, 2014 2:36 AM
The VC and china used to be brothers fight against USA. Why are chinese eating their brothers' lunch now?

I hate dirty, greedy chinese.
In Response

by: Jessie from: PRC
May 10, 2014 9:21 PM
Nonsense!U know nothing about China!U r cheated by VOA~a big liar~~lol

by: David Kent from: St Augustine, FL
May 09, 2014 11:29 PM
I'm having a hard time believing that there are so many purported comments from people in the US using such stilted and improper English. What's up?

by: It_is_true? from: Earth
May 09, 2014 7:18 PM
Chinese promised the world 6 wars in the future to realize the chinese dream. They already got the 7th for free from the Uigurs.

Histories shows the Vietnamese can beat them bloody. China is big but weak, bc the chinese are not patriots like the Vietnamese (see WWII, how easily small Japan was take over China). Imagine, 14 Chinese fight against one Japanese and China lost catastrophic. It is the same with in 1979. Chinese have big mouth and big army and off course it scares the people. But if war break out. No chinese will joints. based on one child policy, no one will go to war and the gov. will have a hard time to force them (chinese tradition since ancient time). BTW, it is not a first time we have war with "big" china. In 1979 a lot of chinese soldiers, they just shoot in their own feet, so they don't have to fight and got kill. It will happen this time the same.

Most stupid and arrogant comments we hear are from the Chinese in the west. They come here and try to get asap US or Canada citizenship and have a good life in cleaner, friendlier environment, but most of them support still the chinese evil gov.
Do you think, these people will go to wars for China?
===> Vietnam will win big again. This time, don't let them withdraw like the last time. kill so much if you can, so they can rember it and you can have a longer peace period with them.

by: ChineseVietnameseAmerican from: Boston
May 09, 2014 10:39 AM
The only good communists are the dead communists. We are not taking side. So, we will just let the commies settle things between themselves. A world with fewer commies is a better world for mankind.

by: INFOME from: USA
May 09, 2014 9:46 AM
China has always been a bully. Please boycott Chinese goods because every dollar you spend on Chinese products, you're supplying them another bullet which they will use to shoot your own people. Death the China's expansionism!
Comments page of 2

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