Three Chinese patrol
boats challenged a Vietnamese ship exploring for oil in the South China Sea,
damaging equipment and warning the ship that it was violating Chinese
protested against the incident by passing a diplomatic note to representatives
of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi
on Thursday, the ministry said in a statement
The Chinese side must “refrain from repeating actions that
violate Vietnam’s sovereignty over its continental shelf and special economic
zone, and also pay damages to the Vietnamese side”, it said without
elaborating, Reuters reported.
China’s Foreign Ministry had
no immediate comment.
The South China Sea covers an
area of more than 648,000 square miles (1.7 million sq kilometres), containing
more than 200 mostly uninhabitable small islands, rocks and reefs.
China, Vietnam, the Philippines,
Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all claim territories in the
sea, which covers an important shipping route and is thought to hold untapped
oil and gas reserves.
The Vietnamese ship, the Binh Minh 02, detected the Chinese
patrol boats approaching on radar at about 5am on Thursday (2200 GMT on
Wednesday), the official Vietnam News Agency reported.
About an hour later, the three Chinese boats intentionally ran
through the area where the Vietnamese ship was working, snapping cables the
ship was using, then left the scene after about three hours.
The incident took place in an area called Block 148 about 120 km
(80 miles) off the south-central coast of Vietnam
from the beach town of Nha Trang,
a map on the news agency’s website showed.
The news agency said the ship fixed the gear and resumed work
today. Petrovietnam said it would work closely with the government to protect