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China says it will never send military to area of oil rig spat with Vietnam

Published on Jun 13, 2014 7:45 PM
 
Officers of the Vietnamese Marine Guard monitoring a Chinese coast guard vessel (top) on the South China Sea, about 210km offshore of Vietnam in this May 15, 2014 file photo. A Chinese official said on Friday that China will never send military forces to the scene of an increasingly ugly spat with Vietnam over an oil rig in the South China Sea, and accused Hanoi of trying to force an international lawsuit. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese official said on Friday that China will never send military forces to the scene of an increasingly ugly spat with Vietnam over an oil rig in the South China Sea, and accused Hanoi of trying to force an international lawsuit.

Scores of Vietnamese and Chinese ships, including coast guard vessels, have squared off around the rig despite a series of collisions after the platform was towed to the area in early May.

Vietnam has accused China of sending six warships, but Mr Yi Xianliang, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs, said that China had never sent military forces. "I can tell you very clearly that from May 2 to today, including to when the (drilling) operations are complete, we have never, are not and will never send military forces. Because we are carrying out normal, civilian, commercial activities," he told a hastily arranged news conference.

"What I can tell you is that this is on a maritime route and at some periods there have been certain Chinese military ships coming back from the south but these have been far away" from where the stand-off round the rig has been taking place, Mr Yi added.

 
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