Latest Stories

Vietnam complains to China as sea tensions rise


HANOI—Vietnam protested to China on Thursday after what it described as a “premeditated” attack on an exploration ship in its waters, raising tensions between the Communist neighbors.

The latest incident comes against a backdrop of increased anti-Chinese sentiment in the Southeast Asian nation, where hundreds of people staged a rare protest Sunday over the activities of Chinese ships in disputed waters.

With ties between Beijing and Hanoi at their lowest in years owing to territorial spats over potentially oil-rich waters, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung vowed to protect Vietnam’s “incontestable” sovereignty.

Hanoi said a Chinese fishing boat “intentionally rammed” the exploration cables of a vessel, chartered by state energy giant PetroVietnam, conducting a seismic survey inside its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone Thursday.

The incident was “premeditated and carefully calculated” as China aims to bring an undisputed area into the territorial row, foreign ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga told reporters.

“This is unacceptable to Vietnam,” she said, adding that the foreign ministry had met Chinese embassy officials Thursday afternoon “to express our opposition to such acts.”

Two Chinese fishing enforcement vessels and other fishing boats arrived to assist the Chinese boat, Nga said, adding that the collision affected the Vietnamese ship’s ability to operate normally.

She said the area in question is completely under Vietnamese sovereignty according to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

It comes just two weeks after three Chinese marine surveillance vessels severed the exploration cables of the Binh Minh 2, another Vietnamese oil survey ship inside the 200 nautical mile zone, according to Hanoi.

Vietnam said it has since deployed eight ships to “escort” the Binh Minh 2 – without saying what kind of vessels – a move which analysts say raises the stakes in the dispute.

After the May 26 incident China said Vietnamese vessels were operating “illegally” and urged the country to “refrain from creating trouble.”

Dung, communist Vietnam’s most powerful figure, made his first public comments on the latest dispute in an article in the Thanh Nien daily published Thursday, indicating how seriously the government views the situation.

He reaffirmed “the incontestable maritime sovereignty of Vietnam towards the two archipelagos, the Paracels and Spratlys,” which the people and army have “the strongest determination” to protect.

Beijing says it is committed to peace in the South China Sea, but its more assertive maritime posture has caused concern among regional nations.

Tensions have also risen this year between China and the Philippines, another claimant to the Spratlys, where Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also say they have a stake.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned last weekend that clashes may erupt in the South China Sea unless nations with conflicting territorial claims adopt a mechanism to settle disputes peacefully.

Hundreds of people held a peaceful anti-China protest outside Beijing’s embassy in Hanoi on Sunday, the largest action of its kind since 2007. Protests are rare in authoritarian Vietnam.

“I think the pressure is on China to stop these acts,” said Australia-based Vietnam analyst Carl Thayer.

Tensions have also spread to the Internet.

In the past few days a number of Vietnamese websites have been hacked including one connected with the foreign ministry, with information in Chinese and images of the Chinese flag left behind, Nga said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: China , Diplomacy , dispute , Maritime , ship , Spratlys , Vietnam

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • 14 killed in car bombing in Homs
  • 57-nation group plays key Ukraine monitoring role
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Whoopi Goldberg debuts as marijuana columnist
  • ‘X-men’ director accused of sex assault on teen boy
  • Business

  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Oil prices mixed ahead of long Easter weekend
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • Marketplace