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Japan to help Vietnam with patrol boats to keep China in check

Hanoi, Aug 3 (): Japan will provide six navy boats to Vietnam to increase its surveillance and patrols in the South China Sea, the foreign minister of Japan said Friday, in the most recent indication of strengthening of associations between states sealed in maritime problems with China.

The foreign minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida had a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Binh Minh. At the meeting, Fumio Kishida said Japan will provide six used vessels and other related equipment for the value of around ¥500 million ($4.9 million). He said the six used vessels can be transformed into patrol boats to maintain the maritime defence activities of Vietnam in the South China Sea and the vessels will be provided within this year at the earliest.

Kishida hoped that the support would contribute to the improvement of maritime law-enforcement capability of Vietnam. He added the rule of law is vital for stability and peace of the sea.

Relations between China and Vietnam plunged to their most awful point early May. On 2nd of May, China positioned an oil rig in sea waters off Vietnam, causing tense meetings between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels and causing deadly uprisings in Vietnam.

Vietnam said the oil rig was positioned within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. But, China said their energy company was doing normal activities in their waters and that it is allowed to do the drilling operations inside its own territory.

The uprisings in mid-May left at least three Chinese nationals dead and hundreds of foreign-owned factories damaged. China removed the rig mid-July, a month earlier than expected initially, claiming it had successfully finished the drilling mission.

In June, Vietnam released video footage showing a Chinese fishing vessel sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat.

Last month, the government of Vietnam said it would spend 11.5 trillion Vietnamese dong ($547 million) to build 32 new vessels for its coast guard and fisheries surveillance forces, but it did not mention any time frame for the investment.