The rig's deployment triggered anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam last
month that killed at least four workers.
Scores of Vietnamese and Chinese ships, including coastguard
vessels, have squared off around the rig despite a series of
collisions after the platform was towed to the area in early May.
In a statement, Vietnam's Directorate of Fisheries said the rig had
shown signs of moving towards the east and southeast.
China had 119 vessels in the rig's operating area, it added,
including six naval ships and four circling military aircraft.
However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying dismissed
as "completely incorrect" the accusations that China had sent six
warships, adding that the rig operations were commercial in nature.
"Because Vietnam keeps forcefully and illegally carrying out
interference, we have sent official Chinese government ships to
guarantee security on the scene, but we have not sent military
ships," she told a daily news briefing.
The Haiyang Shiyou 981 rig is drilling between the Paracel islands,
which China occupies, and the Vietnamese coast. Vietnam has said the
rig is in its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone and on its
China says it is operating within its waters.
China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea, but parts of
the potentially energy-rich waters are also subject to claims by the
Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Hua said Vietnam had sent a large number of armed ships to interfere
in the rig's operations, though she would not confirm whether the
rig had moved.
She added that rig operations, which started on May 2, are expected
to go on until the middle of August.
"We hope that it can be completed smoothly and safely," she said,
accusing Vietnam of having stirred up last month's violence against
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"Vietnam's government incited certain domestic lawbreaking elements
to smash up and burn foreign companies, including Chinese
ones...There has still been no compensation for this," Hua said.
In a separate statement, China's defence ministry accused the United
States of stirring up regional tension, especially through joint
military exercises and by sending "wrong messages" on territorial
"This has made regional peace and stability even more chaotic," it
said, in comments responding to a Pentagon report last week on
China's military spending and ambitions that Beijing has already
The United States was the real threat, it added, pointing to U.S.
cyber-warfare and missile defence capabilities and the fact that
U.S. defence spending far exceeded China's.
(Reporting by Ho Binh Minh in HANOI, and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING;
Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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