The crews from the Vietnamese and Chinese coast guards shook hands and took photos as they met last month, sharing platters of fruit and raising their glasses for a toast. Now, they are in a tense standoff in the South China Sea.
Vietnam’s leaders face growing pressure to challenge China in international court, risking economic retaliation by its largest trading partner, after a Vietnamese fishing boat collided with a Chinese ship and sank.
From his Vietnamese Coast Guard boat at night, Lt. Colonel Phan Duy Cuong can see the yellow lights of an oil rig 10 nautical miles away. Owned by a Chinese company, it sits in waters near islands claimed by both nations in the South China Sea.