Chinese Ships Leave Vietnam Waters After Hanoi Protest

FILE PHOTO: A ship (R) of Vietnam Marine Guard is seen near a ship of Chinese Coast Guard in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) offshore of Vietnam May 14, 2014. (REUTERS/Nguyen Minh/File Photo)

A Chinese research ship and its escort, which operated for nearly a month in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea and prompted a rare protest from Hanoi, left those waters late on Monday.

Chinese vessel Xiang Yang Hong 10 began sailing in Vietnam’s EEZ on May 7, at times flanked by a dozen ships, regularly crossing gas and oil fields operated by Russian companies, according to vessel-tracking data.

The Chinese vessel and its entourage of more than half a dozen ships began their journey back to China’s Hainan Island, leaving Vietnam’s EEZ around midnight, the data showed.

Asked about the movements of the ships, China’s Foreign Ministry did not comment about the return to Hainan.

“It is legitimate and legal for Chinese research vessels to carry out normal research activities in waters under its jurisdiction, and there is no such issue about entering the exclusive economic zones of other countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a regular press conference on Tuesday.

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

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