China has once again ignored Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), deploying a research ship and five accompanying vessels to a region in the resource-rich South China Sea where a Russian company collaboratively operates a gas block with Hanoi. This action by Beijing constitutes a further escalation in the region. Earlier in the month, China had already sent a research vessel, a Chinese coast guard ship, and about ten other vessels into the area, according to a Reuters report.

According to Fox:

The research ship, Xiang Yang Hong 10, on Friday crossed a gas block known as 04-03 operated by Vietsovpetr, a joint venture between Russian-owned Zarubezhneft and PetroVietnam. The news comes one day after Vietnam called on the Chinese vessel to leave the area near the Spratly Islands after it first entered the region May 7.

China has attempted to lay sovereign claim over the entire South China Sea, recently increasing its aggressive posture against neighboring nations with jurisdictional rights in the vast body of water like the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Vietnam on Thursday issued a rare public statement demanding that the Chinese vessels leave the area after they crossed block 129, which is also operated by Vietgazprom.

Chinese spokesperson Mao Ning responded to questions by reporters Friday following the statement and said Beijing had sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and jurisdiction over adjacent waters.

Mao Ning claimed:

“Relevant ships of China carry out normal activities under China’s jurisdiction. It is legitimate and lawful.There is no issue of entering other countries’ exclusive economic zones.”

The growing tension with China has sparked worries that the superpower is on the verge of joining forces with Russia.

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