Vietnamese naval vessels and Chinese ships collided in the South China Sea yesterday as Hanoi sought to prevent Beijing setting up an oil rig in an area claimed by both nations.
A Vietnamese government official said no shots were fired and there were no reports of injuries in the incident, the most serious in years between the two countries at sea.
Diplomats said Vietnam dispatched up to 29 armed naval and coastguard ships to areas near the oil rig when it became aware of China’s intentions.
China moved the giant deep-sea oil rig to an area close to the Paracel Islands on May 2 accompanied by a large flotilla of naval vessels.
China’s stationing of the oil rig was part of a gradual campaign of asserting sovereignty in the South China Sea.
It also announced that no foreign ships would be allowed within a three-mile radius of the £600 million rig.
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