China, Vietnam Vessels Collide At Sea – Literally
By WENDELL MINNICK
TAIPEI, Taiwan - A Vietnam Maritime Police vessel rammed a China Maritime Surveillance vessel within the past six months. Exactly where the incident ensued is unknown, but given the fact that it was a "police" vessel points to the likelihood it was within Vietnam's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The video appeared on YouTube on Nov. 7 and shows a Vietnamese vessel ramming the Chinese vessel.
Sources in the region indicate that if it occurred after the July 20 agreement for the Declaration of Conduct guidelines for South China Sea claimant countries or after the Oct. 11 China-Vietnam agreement on basic principles to settle sea issues, it then raises questions on which country is in violation.
However, Vietnam is clearly the aggressor in the video, and the video demonstrates that the Vietnamese vessel violates safety of navigation and international regulations preventing collisions at sea.
Tensions from overlapping claims in the South China Sea have been rising in the past year as China increases naval patrols in the region and ignores the EEZ of its neighbors.
Since January, Chinese vessels have harassed Filipino and Vietnamese fishing- and oil-exploration vessels with greater regularity, including allegations China has placed equipment near Reed Bank, claimed by the Philippines.
On May 26, three Chinese state-operated Ocean Marine Surveillance vessels harassed the Binh Minh 02, a vessel owned by the oil company PetroVietnam, cutting a towed survey cable. Then on June 9, a Chinese fishing boat rammed a PetroVietnam vessel conducting an oil survey. Both incidents occurred within Vietnam's EEZ.
China and Vietnam have been bumping into one another in the South China Sea since the 1970s. In 1974 China took the Paracel Islands by military force from then-South Vietnam, but Hanoi continues to claim the islands. In 1988 China and Vietnam fought over the Johnson South Reef in the South China Sea. China sank two Vietnamese naval vessels and opened fired on Vietnamese troops occupying the reef, killing over 30.
· Feb. 25: A Chinese frigate fired warning shots at three Filipino fishing boats near the Jackson atoll near Palawan Island, Philippines.
· March 2: Two Chinese maritime patrol vessels threatened to ram a Philippine government energy-research vessel, the M/V Venture, conducting a seismic survey in the Reed Bank area near Palawan Island.
· May: China announces a unilateral fishing ban for the northern part of the South China Sea from May to August.
· May: Vietnam alleges Chinese naval vessels fired on four Vietnamese fishing vessels near East London Reef and Cross Island.
· May: Chinese vessels laid steel posts and a buoy in the Amy Douglas Bank, southwest of Reed Bank within the Philippines Exclusive Economic Zones.
· May 11: Two unidentified fighter jets, said to be Chinese, were sighted near Palawan Island, claimed by the Philippines.
· May 23: Philippine President Benigno Aquino III warned Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie during his visit to Manila of a possible arms race if tensions worsened over South China Sea disputes.