By James Pearson and Khanh Vu HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnamese and Chinese ships have been embroiled in a weeks-long standoff near an offshore oil block in disputed waters of the South China Sea, which fall within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, two Washington-based think-tanks said on Wednesday. China’s U-shaped “nine-dash line” marks a vast expanse of the South China Sea that it claims, including large swathes of Vietnam’s continental shelf where it has awarded oil concessions. The Haiyang Dizhi 8, a ship operated by the China Geological Survey, on Monday completed a 12-day survey of waters near the disputed Spratly Islands, according to separate reports by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS) One of the oil blocks it surveyed is licensed by Vietnam to Spanish energy firm Repsol, which was forced last year and in 2017 to cease operations in Vietnamese waters because of pressure from China. As the Haiyang Dizhi 8 conducted its survey, nine Vietnamese vessels closely followed it. The Chinese ship was escorted by three China Coast Guard vessels, according to data from Winward Maritime, compiled by C4ADS. In a separate incident days earlier, the China Coast Guard… Read full this story
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