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Vietnam says China has rammed Hanoi's patrol vessels in the South China Sea

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There is a new hot spot ready to boil over in the South China Sea which could spark off a catastrophic war in Asia. Vietnam and China have been in a cold war over which nation has jurisdiction over disputed waters near the Paracel islands. China has been accused by Vietnam of ramming Hanoi's vessels in the region reported Voice of America on May 7, 2014.

Vietnam has alleged Chinese ships have repeatedly rammed and used water cannons against Hanoi's patrol boats in the South China Sea, where Beijing has set up an oil rig in the hotly disputed waters located near the Paracel islands. Vietnamese officials have released a video which they say shows the Chinese navy vessels ramming Vietnamese boats. Tran Duy Hai, who is deputy head of Vietnam's national border committee, says there were as many as 80 Chinese vessels, which include seven military ships, deployed in the area to guard the rig.

Reports from Vietnam's maritime police and coast guard have said several Vietnamese sailors have been injured and several ships have been damaged in the clashes. These clashes have occurred many times in the past several days. Meanwhile, the Maritime Safety Administration of China has announced that all vessels should stay 1.6 kilometers away from the rig. China's state-run CNOOC oil company owns the $1 billion rig which had been drilling south of Hong Kong. Hanoi claims this area is part of its exclusive economic zone while China claims just about all of the South China Sea.

China has insisted it has right to put an oil rig off of Vietnam reports Fox News. This has lead to a tense standoff between China and Vietnam. The situation is extremely volatile with the United States now warning both sides to de-escalate tensions while urging China to clarify its claims to the disputed territory. There is a history of conflict going back 1,000 years between China and Vietnam and so there are deepening fears of a possible military confrontation between the two countries. Clearly, in the best interest of stability in Asia and worldwide negotiations between Hanoi and Beijing should be pursued immediately.

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