Tensions Heat Up In South China Sea Between China, Vietnam

China's decision to park an oil rig some 120 miles off Vietnam's coast has strained relations between the two Asian neighbors.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Friday, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep. Let's look more closely now at the competition for control of the South China Sea. That's a strategic body of water surrounded by growing Asian nations like the Philippines, Vietnam and of course, China. Many nations have made overlapping claims for that sea and the resources beneath it. Since several nations are U.S. allies, it's a conflict in which the United States has a big interest.

This week, those claims prompted something just shy of gunfire. China moved an oil rig and began drilling in an area also claimed by Vietnam. Each side is now blaming the other for ramming its ships. NPR's Anthony Kuhn starts our coverage.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking foreign language)

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: In Hanoi on Wednesday, Vietnamese Coast Guard officials showed this video which they said shows Chinese vessels colliding with their ships and firing a water canon at them. They said six government staff were injured as they attempted to repel an intrusion into Vietnamese waters. On Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry official Yi Xianliang told reporters that Vietnam was the aggressor and had rammed Chinese ships 171 times over five days.

China was deeply shocked, he added, by the behavior of its Vietnamese brothers and comrades.

YI XIANLIANG: (Speaking Chinese)

KUHN: I believe the Vietnamese will become more rational, stop their interference and pull out their ships, he said.

The oil rig is located about 120 nautical miles from Vietnam's Ly Son Island, and about 20 miles south of the Paracel Islands claimed by both China and Vietnam. China says it will continue its drilling operations in the area, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas, until Aug. 15th.

Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.