BEIJING, May 8 -- A Chinese Foreign Ministry official on Thursday urged the Vietnamese side to stop any form of disruption of Chinese company's normal oil drilling in waters administered by China.
Yi Xianliang, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Foreign Ministry of China, held a press briefing together with Li Yong, CEO of China Oilfield Services Limited (COSL), on China's drilling operations in southern waters to the Zhongjian Island of the Xisha Islands of China.
Yi said that since May 2, Vietnam has carried out intensive disruptions of Chinese company's normal oil drilling in waters administered by China. China is deeply surprised and shocked.
Yi said that the Xisha Islands are inherent territory of China and there are no disputes in this area. This operation is undertaken by COSL, and it is a normal drilling activity in the coastal waters of the Xisha Islands of China.
The waters of the operation, which is only 17 nautical miles away from the Zhongjian Island is completely within waters off China's Xisha Islands, he said, adding that it is 130-150 nautical miles away from Vietnam.
Chinese company's operation in waters off the Xisha Islands completely falls within China's sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, Yi stressed.
Yi said that 10 years ago, Chinese companies have been operating in these waters. From last May to June, Chinese companies carried out 3-D seismic operations in these waters. This operation is only a routine continuation of our operation in these waters of the past decade.
Soon after the Chinese oil rig arrived at the scene of the operation on May 2, the Vietnamese side dispatched 6 vessels which took the first move to deliberately ram into Chinese government ships at the scene of the operation forcefully in an attempt to disrupt China's drilling operations, according to Yi.
Since May 3, Vietnam has sent more vessels to the scene and for many times rammed into Chinese government ships, he added.
China has for many times required the Vietnamese side to follow international practices and heed and respect the navigation notice issued by China's maritime authorities, so as to uphold maritime production and operation order and navigation safety, Yi said.
However, the Vietnamese side sent additional ships to the scene and continued to ram into Chinese vessels at the scene, said Yi, noting that from May 3 to 7, in a short period of 5 days, Vietnam had dispatched 36 vessels of various kinds which rammed Chinese vessels for as much as 171 times.
The Chinese vessels at the scene are only government vessels and civil vessels, Yi said, but the Vietnamese side has many armed vessels deployed to the scene.
In the course of collision, the Chinese side also found frogmen sent by the Vietnamese side 5 meters away from the Chinese government vessels, Yi said, adding that the Vietnamese side also placed many fishing nets and large obstacles in the waters, not only posing security threats to Chinese vessels and facilities, but also jeopardizing normal navigation security, he said.
Vietnam's disruptions of the Chinese company's normal activities have seriously violated China's sovereignty, sovereignty rights and jurisdiction, gravely affected the normal order of production and operation and the safety of China's rig, and caused unnecessary troubles for China-Vietnam relations, said Yi.
Yi said that the Chinese side had to take more security measures in response to Vietnam's disruptions, so as to ensure the order of maritime operation and the safety of navigation.
China has exercised enormous restraint when dealing with provocations by the Vietnamese side, he stressed.
To date, the Chinese side has communicated with the Vietnamese side for 14 times through diplomatic channels, calling on the Vietnamese side to respect China's legitimate rights and interests, come to its senses, stop all forms of disruption and remove immediately all vessels and personnel from the scene, according to Yi.
Yi said that relations between China and Vietnam have experienced steady improvements in recent years. Leaders of the two parties and two states have reached important consensus on strengthening traditional friendship, deepening strategic cooperation and properly handling sensitive issues.
In 2011, China and Vietnam reached the agreement on the basic principles guiding the settlement of maritime issues between China and Vietnam and also launched the consultation of two working groups, one on maritime cooperation in low-sensitive areas and the other on joint development of waters outside the mouth of the Beibu Bay, he said.
In 2013, China and Vietnam identified the overall strategy to develop maritime, land and financial cooperation in parallel which created new prospects for China-Vietnam relations, Yi said, adding that the working group on maritime joint development has held two rounds of consultation and achieved positive progress.
China and Vietnam are neighbors and brothers linked by rivers and mountains, he said, adding that the Chinese side believes that the two countries have the capacity and wisdom to solve the problem.
The Chinese side hopes that the Vietnamese side will cherish what the two have achieved in bilateral relations which does not come easily and work hard to improve bilateral relations together with China, according to Yi.