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Beijing accuses Vietnam of ramming vessels over 1,500 times since last month

Published on Jun 13, 2014 9:31 PM
A Chinese maritime policeman (right) using flags to signal to Vietnamese ship KN-762 (left), which according to the Chinese authorities collided with Chinese coast guard ship 46001 in South China Sea, in this handout dated May 2, 2014 provided by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 13, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - China on Friday said that Vietnamese ships have rammed its vessels more than 1,500 times since early last month, as the two countries increasingly trade accusations over a South China Sea territorial dispute.

At a special briefing with reporters on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry official Yi Xianliang accused Vietnamese vessels of ramming Chinese ships near an oil rig in contested waters a total of 1,547 times since May 2.

Vietnam now has 61 ships in the area while China has 71, including government and auxiliary ships, Mr Yi said.

Relations between Vietnam and China have plummeted over the oil rig's presence, worsening an increasingly heated row over territorial claims in the area. Anti-Chinese riots sparked by Beijing's dispatch of the rig claimed three Chinese lives in Vietnam last month, according to Hanoi. Beijing says four Chinese citizens died in the unrest.

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