Vietnam tells China to keep oil rigs out of its territory

HANOI - Vietnam on Wednesday demanded that China avoid sending any oil rigs into its territory, after one of the Asian giant's oil rigs finished drilling near the disputed Paracel islands in the South China Sea and was moved towards a southern Chinese province.

Deployment of the rig on May 2 set off deadly anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam, while scores of Vietnamese and Chinese ships have regularly squared off around the platform. There have been several collisions. "Vietnam demands that China not take the Hai Duong-981 rig back or bring in any other rigs for operation in the oil and gas block 143 of Vietnam or any other areas in Vietnam's waters,"Foreign Ministry official Le Hai Binh told Reuters in a statement.

Binh urged China to respect Vietnam's sovereignty and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

Hanoi says the rig was in its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone and on its continental shelf. Beijing says it was operating completely within its waters around the Paracel islands, which China occupies.

China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim parts of the waters, whose estimated energy potential varies widely.