Chinese Navy ships attacked and rammed Vietnamese vessels in Vietnamese waters May 4. A Chinese oil company is trying to build a large oil rig in Vietnamese territorial waters in the East Sea.
Vietnamese commercial vessels were seeking to stop the building when the Chinese ships attacked them Sunday, according to Vietnamese officials.
As many as 80 vessels, including seven military ships, were deployed by the Chinese to guard its oil rig, Tran Duy Hai, deputy head of Vietnam’s national border committee, told international reporters at a press conference held in Hanoi on Wednesday.
Rear Admiral Ngo Ngoc Thu, vice commander of Vietnam’s coast guard, said the Chinese vessels smashed into Vietnamese ships, causing large-scale damage, even blasting Vietnamese ships with water cannons.
Reuters said air support was used, as well:
“On May 4, Chinese ships intentionally rammed two Vietnamese Sea Guard vessels,” said Tran Duy Hai, a foreign ministry official and deputy head of Vietnam’s national border committee.
“Chinese ships, with air support, sought to intimidate Vietnamese vessels. Water cannon was used,” he told a news conference in Hanoi. Six other ships were also hit, other officials said, but not as badly.
China has become increasingly aggressive in the East Asian area, using force and the threat of force against Japan over islands in the East China Sea and trying to control air lanes in disputed areas.
The new provocation comes as China has lashed out at the US following President Obama’s recent tour of Asia, including China’s displeasure that the United States reaffirmed its strong support of Japanese sovereignty over areas China would like to control.
These statements show a continuing attitude of bitterness toward the United States and its Asian alliances, and a sense that the United States is trespassing on China’s “backyard” with its presence in Asia.
Hat Tip: Blogs of War