Beijing: Amid its row with Vietnam over the disputed islands in the South China Sea, China`s military recently staged a drill in waters close to Vietnam simulating a scenario in which an oil rig was surrounded by foreign fishing boats.
The drill performed by China`s People`s Liberation Army, (PLA) took place in the waters near Beibu Gulf, which is known as the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam, a report by?PLA Daily?website said yesterday.
It involved dozens of vessels from 10 military and civilian units, as well as several aircraft from the South Sea Fleet`s naval aviation unit, it said.
The drill was held some time this summer. The report did not give an exact date, the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post reported today.
The report said the PLA flotilla formed a few hours after receiving an order from a maritime command centre. It was reacting to the entry of "an armed suspicious fishing vessel" into waters claimed by China.
The PLA vessels stopped the fishing vessel and detained 20 crewmen and one reporter, the report said.
China, Vietnam relations nosedived after Beijing deployed an oil rig in the disputed waters in May this year which sparked anti-China riots in Vietnam leading to the destruction of over 400 industrial units mostly owned by Chinese investors.
China pulled out over 7000 of its workers after this.
Vietnam later pressed dozens of boats to attack the rig which was warded off Chinese maritime ships.
China subsequently pulled off the rig more than a month ahead of schedule saying that its mission to explore oil in that area was accomplished.
The drill reportedly was held after that.
"It`s a rare maritime drill that is aimed at training all kinds of vessels patrolling nearby to provide efficient help in case there is a surprise attack from Vietnam in disputed waters in the South China Sea," Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said, adding that the PLA would stage similar drills in the future.
"The drills will help the authorities to mount powerful counterattacks as well as to threaten Vietnam and other countries involved in territorial disputes, telling them that China is well prepared to repel any possible attack against its oil rigs," he told the Post.