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Vietnam demands China withdraw her oil exploration ship
 Haiyang Dizhi 8, China’s seismic survey ship. Image via South China Morning Post

Vietnam demanded that China withdraw an oil exploration ship that has expanded its operation to another area of Vietnam’s continental shelf in the disputed South China Sea.

Foreign affairs ministry spokeswoman Le Hang said: “According to Vietnamese authorities, the group of ships has expanded their operation range within Vietnam’s EEZ and continental shelf.”

The seismic survey ship, Haiyang Dizhi 8, first entered Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on July 3. It stayed in the southern area of the East Vietnam Sea and near the Spratly Islands, sparking a standoff between Vietnamese and Chinese coast guard forces.

The survey ship, which is accompanied by Chinese patrol vessels, left the area again on August 7 according to the Vietnamese government and publicly available maritime data, before returning a week later.

It entered the area for the third time on September 7 and stayed there until September 27, according to updates on Twitter by Professor Ryan Martinson of the U.S. Naval War College.

The Haiyang Dizhi 8 is now surveying a new area in the East Vietnam Sea that still lies within Vietnam’s EEZ, Martinson wrote on Twitter on September 30. The area is about 113 nautical miles from the coastal city of Phan Rang-Thap Cham.

Hang said Vietnam has communicated with China on the issue and demanded that Beijing immediately withdraw all the groups of ships from Vietnam’s waters and should not repeat the action.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea and has been involved in disputes with several countries in the region.

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