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China Moves Second Oil Rig Near Vietnam Raising Tensions

Ships of Chinese Coast Guard are seen near Chinese oil rig Haiyang Shi You 981 in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) off shore of Vietnam, May 14, 2014.
China Moves Second Oil Rig Near Vietnam Raising Tensions
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China is sending a second oil rig near Vietnamese waters in the South China Sea. The move appears to increase tensions between the two countries in the area known as the East Sea in Vietnam.

China’s Maritime Safety Administration said the state-owned oil company China National Offshore Oil Company operates the rig. It said the rig will arrive south of the Chinese island of Hainan Friday.

It is not clear if the oil platform will be placed in waters claimed by Vietnam. However, the move is considered likely to raise tensions in the territorial dispute, which intensified last month.

In May, China deployed its largest oil rig to an area close to the disputed Paracel Islands. Anger over the move caused deadly anti-Chinese protests in Vietnam and led to dangerous clashes between ships at sea.

China has competing territorial claims in the South China Sea with several nations. They include the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop told VOA that she hopes all countries involved in the dispute can reach a negotiated settlement.

“Australia does not take sides in specific disputes, but we call on parties to negotiate and to resolve the issue in accordance with international law. The countries of ASEAN are proposing a code of conduct with China and we support that policy decision.”

China’s decision to deploy a second rig came after this week’s high-level talks with Vietnam in Hanoi. Chinese and Vietnamese leaders failed to resolve the dispute.

During the talks, China’s top diplomat Yang Jieche told Vietnam to stop increasing disputes over the Paracel Island group. He called the islands part of, in his words, “China’s inherent territory.”

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met with Mr. Yang on Wednesday. He said China is violating international law, and he called for the withdrawal of the rig. The structure is expected to remain in place until the middle of August.

Vietnam said Chinese ships sank one of its boats and damaged 24 others injuring 12 people. China accused Vietnamese ships of aggressive action, striking Chinese vessels in the area 120 times since May.

This story is written by William Gallo and adapted by Mario Ritter for VOA Learning English.