South China Sea dispute, Chinese, Vietnamese ships collide

by Chris Zappone

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Here is the footage making the rounds of a recent run-in between 25 civilian and naval Vietnamese boats and up to 80 Chinese vessels in the South China Sea.

What’s interesting is the decision by the Vietnamese to release the footage so soon after the event – five days.

I think typically navies are humiliated if they are pushed around at sea. Often the footage is withheld for some time. But the decision to release to video – with a good English translation – shows the desire of the Vietnamese to widen the audience for its complaint with China.

In English from Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defence.

According to Deputy Director of the National Boundary Commission Tran Duy Hai, China has so far deployed many vessels, up to 80 at peak time, of various kinds, including seven military ships backed by 33 boats of marine police, marine surveillance force and fishery administration force, as well as transport and fishing vessels. In addition, dozens of Chinese plane are operating daily on the area. A flotilla of armed fishing boats and military ships are prowling 50-60 nautical miles from Ly Son island.

Hai said that when Vietnam’s law enforcement ships arrived to stop the illegal intrusion of the Chinese side, Chinese ships aggressively fired water cannon at and even rammed at Vietnamese vessels, damaging Vietnam’s coast guard vessels and injuring crew members.

Eight Vietnamese ships were rammed or sprayed with water cannons. The incident was sparked by China’s decision to tow a huge oil platform into Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, which itself is a dramatic escalation of the tussle over territorial rights in the South China Sea.

So…Vietnam is reaching out to foreign audiences. That would also explain the pretty slick poster making the Vietnamese case, credited to Dai Trang and included above.