China enters Vietnamese waters near Russian gas block in ‘alarming escalation’

China on Friday once again ignored Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and sent a research vessel along with five escort ships to an area where a Russian state-owned company is operating a gas block with Hanoi. energy-rich South China Sea.

The move is Beijing’s latest escalation in the region after it first sent a research vessel earlier this month along with at least one China Coast Guard ship and about a dozen other vessels, according to Reuters.

China Vietnam

A Vietnamese Maritime Guard ship (right) next to a Chinese Coast Guard ship in the South China Sea about 210 km off the coast of Vietnam on May 14, 2014. (REUTERS/Nguyen Minh/File photo)


The research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 10 on Friday crossed the gas block known as 04-03, operated by Vietsovpetr, a joint venture between Russia’s Zarubezhneft and PetroVietnam.

The news comes a day after Vietnam called on a Chinese vessel to leave the area near the Spratly Islands after it first entered the region on May 7.

China tried make sovereign claims over the entire South China Sea, recently intensifying its aggressive stance towards neighboring countries with jurisdictional rights over vast waters, such as the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Spratly Islands

An aerial view shows the Philippine-occupied island of Thitu, known as Pag-asa, in the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on March 9, 2023. (REUTERS/Eloise Lopez)

CHINA THREATS ‘SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES’ AFTER U.S. Warship Passes Contested Paracel Islands Again

On Thursday, Vietnam issued a rare public statement demanding that Chinese vessels leave the area after they crossed Block 129, which is also operated by Vietgazprom.

China’s spokesman Mao Ning answered reporters’ questions on Friday after the statement and said that Beijing sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and jurisdiction over adjacent waters.

“The relevant courts of China carry out normal activities under the jurisdiction of China. It is legal and legal,” she said. “There is no problem of entering the exclusive economic zones of other countries.”

International courts are allowed to cross the exclusive economic zones of other countries because they are not the immediate territory of any particular sovereign, although countries have jurisdictional rights over these territories under international law that grant them special rights in relation to exploration, exploitation of marine resources and production energy. .

China Coast Guard

A Chinese Coast Guard ship patrols the disputed Scarborough Shoal April 5, 2017. (REUTERS/Eric De Castro/File Photo)


Ray Powell, manager of Stanford University’s Myoushu South China Sea project, described the blatant disregard for exclusive economic zone of vietnam as the most significant incursion into the region since 2019 and a “disturbing escalation”.

Reuters contributed to this report.