By CHRIS BRUMMITT, Associated Press
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam's state-owned oil and gas company
accused Chinese fishing boats on Monday of sabotaging one of its seismic
survey ships in the South China Sea, adding to already high tensions
over Beijing's disputed territorial claims in the waters.
said two Chinese fishing boats cut across cables being laid by the
survey vessel Binh Minh 2 off the coast of central Vietnam on Friday.
vehemently protests the Chinese fishing boats' action against the Binh
Minh 2," Pham Viet Dung, the deputy head of exploration at the company,
said in a statement on the company's website. "We ask that China educate
its citizens to respect Vietnamese waters."
Chinese and Vietnamese Foreign Ministry officials had no immediate comment.
claims most of the South China Sea, bringing it into conflict with its
smaller neighbors. Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan
also claim part of the waters, which are believed to be rich in gas and
oil reserves as well as fish stocks. China, which is strengthening its
navy, has been increasingly assertive in pressing its claims as its
economy as grown in recent years.
It is the second time that
Chinese fishing vessels have reportedly damaged the Vietnamese survey
ship's cables. An incident in June last year off Vietnam's central coast
triggered rare street protests in Hanoi.
It wasn't immediately
clear whether the reported incident took place in contested waters.
PetroVietnam said it occurred 43 miles (69 kilometers) from the small
island of Con Co.
China recently issued new passports featuring a
map showing its territorial claims in the South China Sea, angering
Vietnam and the Philippines, which have refused to stamp the passports.
has also protested a recent announcement by the China National Offshore
Oil Corp. opening nine oil and gas lots for international bidders in
areas overlapping with existing Vietnamese exploration blocks. Vietnam
says the lots lie entirely within its 200-nautical mile exclusive
economic zone and continental shelf.