China and Vietnam exchanged claim and counter-claim Thursday, following a collision at sea involving vessels from both countries. The collision occurred near a Chinese oil rig in the South China Sea, off the coast of Vietnam.
Hanoi said two vessels were badly damaged and six people were injured when Chinese ships deliberately rammed them. Chinese said the drilling operations were being carried out in Chinese territory and their boats had acted with the "utmost restraint," using water cannons in response to ramming perpetrated by the Vietnamese.
China also claimed that all the Chinese vessels involved were civilian, but that Vietnam had brought a number of military vehicles into the area.
"Our aim, our only aim, is to guarantee our reasonable, legal, normal drilling operations," said Yi Xianliang, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs Yi said.
Xianliang added that China had no choice but to increase its security measures in response to what he said were Vietnam's provocations.
Vietnamese officials’ responded saying China’s civilian ships were supported by a missile cruiser. The incident has raised tensions between the two countries to their highest point in decades. China has called for talks
The United States has also weighed into the conflict, criticizing China. This occurred just days after U.S. President Barack Obama visited Asian allies South Korea, and Malaysia, and more provocatively, Japan and the Philippines both of whom are engaged in a territorial dispute with China.