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China deploys more ships in Vietnam waters

China has sent two more armed naval ships to waters surrounding the Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig illegally set up in Vietnam’s waters, according to a senior official from the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Force.

When they arrived, the vessels removed canvas sheets hiding their weapons, intimidating Vietnamese fishing vessels, said Nguyen Van Trung, deputy head of the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Department at a press conference in Ha Noi on Saturday.

Trung said the Chinese ships kept approaching and provoking the Vietnamese forces patrolling Vietnam’s waters around the oil rig.

He said the warships included a fast-attack missile craft and a fast patrol attack craft.

He added that as Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance ships approached the oil rig to demand China remove it, many Chinese ships encircled, rammed and fired water cannons at Vietnamese ships.

Trung said one Chinese ship intentionally rammed a Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Force ship when it was on duty about 13 kilometers from the oil rig.

At the same time, Chinese “fishing” vessels continued to surround Vietnamese fishing vessels, however, the Vietnamese refused to move from their traditional fishing grounds.

The Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Force said it had tried to exercise the utmost restraint. Together with the Coast Guard Force, it continues to provide support for Vietnamese fishing boats to ensure their safety and operations, said Trung.

In a bulletin aired on Radio Voice of Vietnam, Trung said that by yesterday afternoon, China had 134 ships of various kinds, including coast guard ships, warships, refueling ships and fishing vessels, around the oil rig.

In another development, the Minister for Public Security, Tran Dai Quang, on Saturday telephoned his Chinese counterpart, Guo Sheng Kun, over recent public protests against the oil rig set up on Vietnam’s continental shelf and within its exclusive economic zone.

Quang updated the Chinese official about incidents at industrial parks in the southern provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai, central Ha Tinh province and HCM City.

He told the Chinese minister that some people had used the spontaneous protests to create social disorder and that dozens of policemen had been injured.

He added that the incidents were regrettable and that hundreds of people were being held for investigation.

The Vietnamese government has promptly directed ministries, agencies and localities to take measures to help the affected businesses resume their activities and enable local foreigners to stabilize their lives, he said.

Trung said China should withdraw the oil rig from Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and suggested the two sides sit down and hold talks to clear up differences.

Meanwhile, police in central Ha Tinh province have launched legal proceedings against 16 people involved in a disturbance at the Vung Ang Economic Zone.

The suspects are being investigated on charges of causing public disorder, intentionally injuring others, and destroying and stealing assets, said Colonel Bui Dinh Quang, deputy chief of the provincial police, yesterday.

Earlier, local police also started legal proceedings against a public disorder case at the zone’s Son Duong Formosa deepwater port project on May 14.

The province’s competent agencies are conducting further investigations and encouraging people to hand in images and video clips on the incident to be used as legal grounds for strictly punishing the offenders under the law.

Many foreign experts and workers were discharged from hospitals on the weekend. They thanked doctors and nurses at Ha Tinh hospitals for their treatment.

Press conference

An international press conference was held in Hanoi on Saturday to inform foreign reporters about bad individuals’ extremist actions that affected social order and safety in several localities in the country.

Dang Minh Khoi, Assistant to the Foreign Minister and head of the Northeast Asia Department under the Foreign Ministry, said right after learning about the incidents, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung immediately chaired several meetings with concerned Ministries and localities on how to promptly fix the situation.

He underscored that the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry has maintained regular contacts with foreign agencies in Hanoi and HCM City to promptly handle the protection of foreign citizens in Vietnam as well as their legitimate rights.

Lieutenant General Hoang Kong Tu, head of the Investigation Security Agency under the Ministry of Public Security, reported that the agency is working hard to investigate whether workers received money to participate in destroying the assets, but no official information on the action has been found.

Regarding the issue, the local police commenced criminal proceedings against 300 people on charge of appropriating and destroying assets, causing public disorder, and taking actions against on-duty officials.

He reported that several foreigners in Vietnam were found to have been working without work permits and were sent to their homeland.

Lieutenant General Tu confirmed that two people lost their lives in the incidents due to fighting with the rioters.

By News Desk, Viet Nam News