Chinese survey ship leaves Vietnam’s waters

A Chinese oil and gas survey ship that has angered Vietnam in the South China Sea has left Vietnamese territory for the time since its arrival in early July.

China’s Haiyang Dizhi 8 was recorded leaving Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and heading towards Chinese territory yesterday (Thursday), according to Marine Traffic, which tracks international shipping.

The vessel, accompanied by two naval ships, has been conducting seismic studies off the Vietnamese coast in energy-rich areas, leading Hanoi to claim its sovereignty was being violated. Protests against the mission were held outside the Chinese embassy in Hanoi in August.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the mission’s work had been completed.

Vice chairman of the Chinese Central Military Commission Xu Qiliang held talks with Vietnam’s Defence Minister Ngo Xuan Lich in Beijing this week.

Lich reportedly said the multilateral efforts could help to cope with common security challenges.

Analysts now fear an oil rig might soon be stationed off the Vietnamese coast if the seismic mission found evidence of fossil fuels.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad has again called for a peaceful resolution to the dispute as he warned of an increasing China and US military presence that could threaten key shipping route.

“In the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea, the passage of ships is still free without obstruction but once people start sending warships, then we have a problem. There might be accidents and as we know accidents may lead to war,” the 94-year-old prime minister told the media.

Movie controversy

The animated movie, Abominable, which is made by DreamWorks and Shanghai-based Pearl Studio, has been banned in Malaysia because it contains a map of the South China Sea. Vietnam has already pulled the US-Chinese production about a girl and a yeti, which has nothing to do with the territorial dispute.

The animated map shows the South China Sea with the contentious “nine-dash-line” on which China bases its claim to around 80 per cent of the disputed sea. Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei and Taiwan have heavily overlapping claims with China.

Distributor United International Pictures said: “Universal has decided not to make the censor cut required by the Malaysian censor board and as such will not be able to release the film in Malaysia.”

DreamWorks, which is owned by Universal Pictures, planned for the film to open in Malaysia on November 7.

China’s navy is increasingly assertive in the South China Sea. Picture credit: Wikimedia