Vietnam may take legal action against China over on-going maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has said.
The comments follow the deployment of a $1bn deep-water Chinese oil rig in the disputed waters, which led to anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam.
Violent protests began as a peaceful march on 12 May, but soon spiralled out of control resulting in two Chinese citizens being killed and more than 100 others injured.
In a written response to Reuters, Dung stated that: "Vietnam is considering various defence options, including legal actions in accordance with international law."
"I wish to underscore that Vietnam will resolutely defend its sovereignty and legitimate interests because territorial sovereignty, including sovereignty of its maritime zones and islands, is sacred."
Dung did not specify what legal actions the country was considering, but ruled out the possibility of a military solution or a war in the disputed waters, reported the Associated Press.
The riots took place after Vietnamese agencies detected that China’s Hai Yang Shi You 981 deep-sea rig was being escorted by three oil and gas service vessels to the south of the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago on 1 May.
When Vietnamese law enforcement ships tried to stop Beijing from illegally erecting an oil rig in the South China Sea, Chinese vessels rammed and aggressively fired a water cannon at the Vietnamese ships, damaging the boats and injuring several crew members.
Commenting on the remarks, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: "Now they are distorting the facts, conflating right and wrong on the global stage, blackening China and making unreasonable accusations against China."