Vietnam demanded on Thursday that China withdraw an oil exploration ship that has expanded its operation to another area of Vietnam’s continental shelf in the disputed South China Sea.
Foreign affairs ministry spokeswoman Le Hang said “According to Vietnamese authorities, the group of ships has expanded their operation range within Vietnam’s EEZ and continental shelf.”
The seismic survey ship, Haiyang Dizhi 8, first entered Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on July 3.
It stayed in the southern area of the East Vietnam Sea and near the Spratly Islands, sparking a standoff between Vietnamese and Chinese coast guard forces.
The survey ship, which is accompanied by Chinese patrol vessels, left the area again on August 7 according to the Vietnamese government and publicly available maritime data, before returning a week later.
It entered the area for the third time on September 7 and stayed there until September 27, according to updates on Twitter by Professor Ryan Martinson of the U.S. Naval War College.
The Haiyang Dizhi 8 is now surveying a new area in the East Vietnam Sea that still lies within Vietnam’s EEZ, Martinson wrote on Twitter on September 30.
The area is about 113 nautical miles from coastal city of Phan Rang-Thap Cham.
Hang said Vietnam has communicated with China on the issue and demanded that Beijing immediately withdraw all the groups of ships from Vietnam’s waters and should not repeat the action.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea and has been involved in disputes with several countries in the region.
Oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea is a highly fraught issue in both Vietnam and China, igniting a series of violent conflicts between 1974 and 1988 over control of the Spratly and Parcel Islands.
In 2014, anti-Chinese sentiment boiled over in Vietnam and sparked deadly attacks against Chinese-owned factories and businesses, after a Chinese drilling rig entered the disputed waters.
In May, Vietnam’s state oil company PetroVietnam began drilling for natural gas in a joint venture with Russia’s Rosneft in the vicinity of the recent standoff.
Edited by Hadiza Mohammed/Maharazu Ahmed
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