Vietnam warns China about harassing ships
HANOI — Chinese ships have been ramming into and firing water cannons at Vietnamese vessels trying to stop Beijing from putting an oil rig in the South China Sea, according to officials and video footage shown at a news conference in Hanoi on Wednesday.
Several boats have been damaged and at least six Vietnamese on board them have been injured, Vietnam officials said, in a dangerous escalation of tensions over waters considered a global flashpoint.
“We are strongly concerned about dangerous conduct and intimidation by vessels in the disputed area,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday in Washington.
China has been harassing Vietnam and Philippine vessels and fishermen in the potentially oil- and gas-rich waters it claims.
But China's deployment of the oil rig on May 1 and the flotilla of escort ships, some armed, is seen as one of its most provocative steps in a gradual campaign of asserting its sovereignty in the South China Sea. With neither country showing any sign of stepping down, the standoff raises the possibility of more serious clashes.
Hanoi, which has no hope of competing with China militarily, said it wants a peaceful solution and — unlike China — hadn't sent any navy ships to areas close to the $1 billion deep sea rig near the Paracel Islands. But “all restraint had a limit,” a top official warned.
“Our maritime police and fishing protection forces have practiced extreme restraint, we will continue to hold on there,” Ngo Ngoc Thu, vice commander of Vietnam's coast guard, told a news conference in Hanoi. “But if (the Chinese ships) continue to ram into us, we will respond with similar self-defense.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.