China is sending another four oil rigs to the South China Sea, state media and authorities said yesterday, as Beijing and Hanoi trade accusations over an increasingly heated territorial row.
The move marks a fresh escalation of the dispute that erupted after China deployed the giant Haiyang Shiyou 981 rig seven weeks ago into waters Hanoi claims.
The row has seen a wave of deadly anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam as well as accusations from both sides of ramming by the other's vessels.
Talks in Hanoi between Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Vietnamese Foreign Minister and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung over the dispute ended in deadlock on Wednesday.
One of the new rigs, Nanhai 9, was dispatched that same day and was to arrive Friday, according to a statement posted online Wednesday by the China Maritime Safety Administration.
The three other rigs -- Nanhai 2, 4 and 5 -- have already arrived at their destinations and will conduct drilling operations over the next four to eight weeks, the administration said.
Some of the positions it gave for them are east of Hong Kong and far from any area claimed by Vietnam, but it remains unclear whether the others will be deployed in disputed waters.
The Philippines on Thursday asked a UN tribunal to speed up its ruling on whether China's claims in the region are in violation of international maritime law. Beijing has resolutely refused to participate in the proceedings.
Beijing has also been accused of undertaking land reclamation projects in disputed areas, further stoking tensions.