Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has warned China to withdraw its drilling rig from the disputed sector of the South China Sea. China quickly responded that the rig was not located in the disputed waters and urged Vietnam to meet it half way in resolving the issue.
MOFA has been tracking the movement of the controversial oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 since an incident in 2014 where China parked the oil rig in waters that Vietnam considers its own causing the worst breakdown in relationship between the two countries in decades.
The Vietnamese ministry claims that on January 16, 2016, China’s HYSY 981 drilling rig moved to an area in the South China Sea where the jurisdiction is unclear.
According to the ministry, the rig moved to a position about 21.4 nautical miles to the east of the assumed median line, between the two baselines of Vietnam and China, prompting a MOFA representative to meet with a representative of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi and express his concerns over the rig’s move.
MOFA Spokesperson Le Hai Binh said: “The area into which HYSY 981 oil rig moved is an overlapping area between the two continental shelves of Central Vietnam and China’s Hainan Island. This area has not yet been delimited.
“Vietnam requests China not to conduct drilling activities and to withdraw the HYSY 981 oil rig from this area. Vietnam reserves all of its legal rights and interests in the area in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, and relevant international practices.”
According to Reuters, as a response to Vietnam’s claims, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing: “According to what is understood, China’s Haiyang Shiyou 981 drilling platform is operating in Chinese-controlled waters that are completely undisputed.”
“We hope the Vietnamese side can view this calmly, meet China half way and jointly work hard to appropriately handle relevant maritime issues.”
Offshore Energy Today Staff