| BEIJING, June 13
BEIJING, June 13 A Chinese official said on
Friday that China will never send military forces to the scene
of an increasingly ugly spat with Vietnam over an oil rig in the
South China Sea, and accused Hanoi of trying to force an
China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea, but
parts of the potentially energy-rich waters are also subject to
claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
China is also involved in a territorial dispute in the East
China Sea with Japan.
Scores of Vietnamese and Chinese ships, including coastguard
vessels, have squared off around the rig despite a series of
collisions after the platform was towed to the area in early
The rig's deployment triggered anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam
last month that killed at least four workers.
Vietnam has accused China of sending six warships, but Yi
Xianliang, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs' Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs, said that
China had never sent military forces.
"I can tell you very clearly that from May 2 to today,
including to when the (drilling) operations are complete, we
have never, are not and will never send military forces. Because
we are carrying out normal, civilian, commercial activities," he
told a hastily arranged news conference.
"What I can tell you is that this is on a maritime route and
at some periods there have been certain Chinese military ships
coming back from the south but these have been far away" from
where the stand-off round the rig has been taking place, Yi
China stations military forces on some of the numerous
islands it occupies in the Spratly and Paracel Islands in the
South China Sea.
Last week, Vietnam broadcast footage of a Chinese ship
colliding with a small fishing boat which capsizes in its path.
Yi showed pictures of much smaller Vietnamese ships
appearing to nudge Chinese ships, and of Chinese maritime police
fishing out pieces of wood and old fishing nets he said Vietnam
had placed in the waters on purpose to act as obstacles.
He said that China had had more than 30 rounds of talks with
Vietnam since the crisis began, and denied that China was
blocking any proposals by Vietnam for high-level dialogue or for
a special envoy to travel to Beijing.
"I know that certain people in Vietnam, perhaps because they
are trying to find another way to resolve the problem, are
creating certain conditions. The so-called other route is the
so-called lawsuit way," he said.
"...If this spreading of rumours or distorting of facts is
to achieve the aim of lodging a lawsuit, then I have to say that
this is a miscalculation."
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung told Reuters his
government was considering various "defence options" against
China, including legal action, a move the United States said it
The Haiyang Shiyou 981 rig is drilling between the Paracel
islands, which China occupies, and the Vietnamese coast. Vietnam
has said the rig is in its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic
zone and on its continental shelf.
China says it is operating within its waters.