China and Vietnam Point Fingers After Clash in South China Sea

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(Photo Credit: Hoang Dinh Nam/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

(BGF) – Yesterday, May 27, 2014, a Vietnamese fishing vessel was sunk in the vicinity of China’s contested oil rig in waters claimed by both China and Vietnam. The story was covered by Jane Perlez for The New York Times. According to Perlez, the Vietnamese vessel allegedly sank after being rammed by a Chinese vessel approximately 17 miles from the oil rig. The sinking of the vessel has only further enflamed the tensions between the two countries. China alleges that the Vietnamese fishing vessel was the aggressor and was ramming a Chinese vessel. This sparked a barage of nationalistic comments on Chinese social media. Additionally, a woman in Vietnam recently set herself on fire, and later died, in Ho Chi Minh City in protest of China’s oil rig being placed in waters claimed by Vietnam. The tensions between China and Vietnam have been continuing to escalate in recent months. Click here to read the full article or visit The New York Times‘ website.

China and Vietnam Point Fingers After Clash in South China Sea

By Jane Perlez

BEIJING — Tensions in the South China Sea escalated sharply on Tuesday as China and Vietnam traded accusations over the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the vicinity of a Chinese oil rig parked in disputed waters off Vietnam’s coast.

The sinking further aggravated the worsening diplomatic and economic frictions between China and Vietnam, whose relations have plummeted to the worst point in decades after anti-Chinese riots two weeks ago that killed at least four people and injured more than 100 in Vietnam. China evacuated several thousand workers from Vietnam last week.

In the latest incident, a Chinese vessel rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat about 17 nautical miles southwest of the oil rig on Monday afternoon, the state-run Vietnamese television network, VTV1, reported. All 10 crew members were rescued, the network said.

But China labeled Vietnam as the aggressor, with the Chinese state-run news agency, Xinhua, saying the Vietnamese fishing boat “capsized when it was interfering with and ramming” a Chinese fishing vessel from Hainan, a province of China. Then China accused Vietnam of sabotage and interfering with the operations of the oil rig, which has become a flash point ever since Vietnam learned that the Chinese had anchored the rig in waters contested by both nations.

At sea, armadas from both countries are jousting as the Chinese try to protect the $1 billion oil rig operated by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, known as Cnooc.

Chinese and Vietnamese boats have rammed each other in the area around the oil rig, and the Chinese have acknowledged that they used water cannons to keep the Vietnamese away from the rig, which stands as tall as a 40-story building.

The rig arrived in the waters off the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by both China and Vietnam, on May 1, a move that showed China was trying to establish its control of the waters without consulting other claimants.

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