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Chinese warplanes violate Vietnamese airspace

May 12, 2014, 11:58 UTC+3 HANOI
Chinese combat aviation planes were sent to the South China Sea area where since May, Vietnam claims, China’s drilling platform Haiyang Shiyou 981 is illegally located, Coast Guard of Vietnam says
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Chinese fighter jets (archive)

Chinese fighter jets (archive)

© AP Photo

HANOI, May 12. /ITAR-TASS/. Over the past two days, China’s warplanes have repeatedly violated Vietnam’s airspace over the South China Sea, Vice Commander of the Coast Guard of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) Colonel Ngo Ngoc Thu said on Monday.

According to him, Chinese combat aviation planes were sent to the South China Sea area where since May, Vietnam claims, China’s drilling platform Haiyang Shiyou 981 is illegally located.

The Haiyang Shiyou 981 platform, according to the Chinese side, until the middle of August will be engaged in the prospecting work in the area of the Paracel Islands. The ownership of these islands, as well as the neighbouring Spratly Islands is claimed by both Vietnam and China. The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the area where Beijing installed the Haiyang Shiyou 981 drilling rig cannot be considered as disputed, because it belongs to the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the SRV that belongs to Vietnam in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982.

The SRV Coast Guard vice commander said that at present there are many Chinese vessels in this area, including three warships, which block the access of Vietnamese fishing vessels and Coast Guard boats to the Paracel Islands area.

On Saturday and Sunday, Chinese combat aviation fighters several times flew over the Vietnamese ships at an altitude of 800 - 900 metres.

In addition, Chinese patrol vessels, guarding the drilling rig, were using water cannons against the SRV Coast Guard boats that protect Vietnam’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Ngo Ngoc Thu said.

A wave of protests swept through all major cities of Vietnam on Sunday. The protesters demanded from China to stop illegal activity on the Vietnamese continental shelf. The anti-Chinese demonstrations, the largest over the past five years, involved several tens of thousands of people across Vietnam. The protesters demanded from China to abstain from any actions, putting in question the SRV sovereignty over the Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands.

The unresolved dispute over the ownership of the Spratly archipelago and Paracel Islands for many years has been the cause of a multinational conflict in the East China Sea. Although China and Vietnam are the main sides of the dispute for the rights to these territories and surrounding waters, partial or full claims to the Spratly and Paracel Islands have been also laid by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines. According to experts, considerable deposits of oil and mineral raw materials are concentrated on the shelf of these islands.

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