VietNamNet Bridge - The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry has staunchly opposed the recent action of Chinese marine surveillance vessels in cutting the exploration cables of a PetroVietnam ship that was conducting seismic surveys at Lot 148 within Viet Nam's continental shelf.
A ministry official confirmed that, while the PetroVietnam ship, Binh Minh 02, was conducting seismic surveys at the lot which falls within the country's 200 nautical mile continental shelf on Thursday, Chinese vessels cut its exploration cables at a location 120 nautical miles from the Dai Lanh cape in the central province of Phu Yen.
The official added that a representative from the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry had handed over a diplomatic note to representatives from the Chinese embassy in Ha Noi in protest against China's action. The note demanded that China immediately cease and prevent the re-occurrence of activities that violate Viet Nam's sovereign right to its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. The note also demanded compensation for damage caused.
The diplomatic note stated that, while China's action violated Viet Nam's sovereign right to its continental shelf, it also went against the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The note said that China's action had violated the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), signed between ASEAN and China in 2002, and the common perception of the two countries' high-ranking leaders on preventing further complication of the situation in the East Sea.
Viet Nam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) Deputy General Director Do Van Hau provided the information on the violation during an interview with the media in Ha Noi yesterday.
According to Hau, in implementing the group's oil and gas exploration and exploitation programme for 2011, the PetroVietnam Technical Service Corporation (PTSC), an affiliate of PetroVietnam, dispatched the seismic survey ship Binh Minh 02 to conduct seismic surveys at Lots 125, 126, 148 and 149, which lie within the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Viet Nam.
The Binh Minh 02 had conducted two previous surveys in those areas, the first in 2010 and the second on March 17, 2011, he said, adding that surveys had been conducted smoothly and that the Binh Minh 02 had performed its tasks competently.
At 5:05am on May 26, the Binh Minh 02 picked up a strange vessel moving towards the survey area on its radar. Five minutes later, it detected the approach of another two ships. The three ships were subsequently identified as Chinese marine surveillance vessels that had moved into the survey area without warning.
At 5:58am, the Chinese ships crossed through the survey area, only 120 nautical miles from the Dai Lanh cape in the central province of Phu Yen, an area well inside Vietnamese territorial waters, cutting the Binh Minh 02's exploration cables.
Hau added that the three Chinese vessels had hindered the operations of the Binh Minh 02 and threatened it by saying that the Binh Minh 02 was violating Chinese sovereignty.
The Binh Minh 02 determinedly rejected the Chinese threats, responding that it was operating inside Vietnamese territorial waters.
The Chinese vessels kept up impeding the Binh Minh 02 until leaving the survey area at 9:00am on May 26.
The Binh Minh 02 had to cease operations on Thursday in order to gather damaged equipment for repair. Under instructions from PetroVietnam and PTSC, the Binh Minh 02 repaired its equipment on the spot and resumed its operations by 6:00am yesterday.
The PetroVietnam leader affirmed that the Chinese vessels had penetrated deep into Viet Nam's territorial waters in order to sabotage and hinder PetroVietnam's exploration activities, calling it an extremely perverse action that violated Viet Nam's sovereign rights.
He said that PetroVietnam had reported the incident and had asked the Vietnamese Government to take the strongest possible measures in demanding that the Chinese immediately cease their invasive actions that have blocked PetroVietnam's operations while assisting the group in carrying out its exploration and exploitation activities.
PetroVietnam affirmed that it would continue to conduct seismic survey activities in the area that they confirm belongs to Viet Nam. The group will work in close co-operation with relevant agencies to ensure the effective and safe operations of the Binh Minh 02 which, in operation since 2008, has carried out a multitude of surveys on Viet Nam's continental shelf.