Chinese and Malaysian ships in South China Sea standoff: sources
KUALA LUMPUR: A Chinese government survey ship is tagging an exploration vessel operated by Malaysia’s state oil company Petronas in disputed waters in the South China Sea, three regional security sources said on Friday.
China’s Haiyang Dizhi 8 entered waters near Malaysia on Thursday, according to ship tracking website Marine Traffic.
On Friday, it was close to the Petronas-operated West Capella, according to the security sources, who did not want to be identified because they were not authorised to talk to the media. One of the sources said a Vietnamese vessel was also tagging the West Capella.
The area is close to waters claimed by both Vietnam and Malaysia as well by China, through its sweeping claim to most of the South China Sea within its U-shaped ‘nine-dash line’ that is not recognised by its neighbours or most of the world.
The United States has accused China of taking advantage of the distraction of the coronavirus pandemic to advance its presence in the South China Sea.
On Wednesday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was conducting normal activities and accused U.S. officials of smearing Beijing.
A Malaysian security source said the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was flanked at one point on Friday by more than 10 Chinese vessels, including those belonging to maritime militia and the coast guard. That source also mentioned the Vietnamese vessel.
The Malaysian prime minister’s office, the defense ministry and Petronas did not respond to requests for comment. – Reuters