China Warns Vietnam on Nansha Crisis

China has urged Vietnam to stop any activity of violating its sovereignty over the disputed waters of the South China Sea following an incident involving the two communist countries. Hanoi had protested against what it regarded as “a premeditated attack” in its territorial waters against a ship.

The Vietnamese spokesperson of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Phuong Nga had stated that “a Chinese fishing vessel was intentionally crashed the cables of a Vietnamese ship which belongs to the oil group PetroVietnam, within the Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (200 nautical miles EEZ).

Referring apparently to the same incident, China has given a different version backed Friday by the official Xinhua news agency. The spokesman of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hong Lei, said that China had “indisputably” sovereignty over the Nansha Islands (known abroad under the name of the Spratly Islands) and their territorial waters.

He said that Chinese fishing boats had been driven out by the Vietnamese Navy on Thursday morning and that during the incident the fishing net from a boat caught in the cables of a Vietnamese oil exploration boat that illegally crossed into the area. According to Beijing, the Vietnamese exploration boat hung from the Chinese ship for over an hour, said Xinhua news agency.

Chinese fishermen have been forced to cut their nets to release the Vietnamese ship. “This incident has seriously endangered the Chinese fishermen” said Hong Lei. According to Hong Lei Vietnamese exploration activities violated Chinese sovereignty and he called on Hanoi to cease these actions.

Tensions between the two countries on the southern islands of the South China Sea are not new but have been revived recently. Last month, Vietnam has accused China of “violating” its sovereignty, after an incident in which another exploration ship of PetroVietnam had been damaged by Chinese maritime surveillance vessels.