Thursday, 2 June 2011

Chinese and Vietnamese ships clash in South China Sea

A confrontation between a Vietnamese oil and gas survey ship and a Chinese patrol boat on 26th May has brought the issue of sovereignty of the South China Sea back to the forefront of leaders' minds, just before the start of a regional security conference.

Vietnam accuses the Chinese boat of deliberately cutting the survey ship's cables in Vietnamese waters. China denies the allegation.

The clash occurred some 120 km off the south-central coast of Vietnam and 600km south of China's Hainan island.

PetroVietnam, who operates the ship, called the Binh Minh 02, released footage of the event. A boat clearly marked China Marine Surveillance is seen approaching the Binh Minh 02. The ship's captain, Alexander Belov, is heard yelling at the Chinese ship and telling them to stay away from the cable.

The South China Sea, where the clash occurred, is claimed by a number of States, including China and Vietnam. The region is an important shipping route and is thought to contain large oil and gas reserves.

Both country's have reasserted their position after the clash. Vietnamese foreign ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said “The Vietnamese navy will do everything necessary to firmly protect peace and the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Vietnam.”

China's foreign ministry hit back, saying Vietnamese oil and gas operations “undermined China's interests and jurisdictional rights.”

The row comes just days before a regional security conference in Singapore, which aims to promote cooperation and stability in the Asia Pacific region.

Sources: BBC News, IISS, Sydney Morning Herald, Vietnam News Agency, Xinhua

For more information, please see the Menas Borders website, here.

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