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US seriously concerned over East Sea situation after Vietnamese ship sunk by China

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06:49 | 07/04/2020

The United States condemns China's reported sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel on April 2, appalling that China is exploiting the world’s focus on addressing COVID-19 pandemic to assert its unlawful maritime claims in the BienDong (East Sea).

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The US on April 6 said it was "seriously concerned" about China's reported sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the East Sea. Source: US Embassy in Vietnam

In its statement, the US Department of State said this incident is the latest in a long string of China’s actions in the East Sea amid the global focus on fighting COVID-19.

It urged China to instead focus on supporting international efforts to fight the global pandemic.

"We call on the PRC (People's Republic of China) to remain focused on supporting international efforts to combat the global pandemic, and to stop exploiting the distraction or vulnerability of other states to expand its unlawful claims in the South China (East) Sea," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

The United States said it was "seriously concerned" about the episode.

"This incident is the latest in a long string of PRC actions to assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbours in the South China (East) Sea," Ortagus said.

Regarding this incident, a representative of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had a meeting with a representative of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi and presented a protest diplomatic note asking the Chinese side to investigate, clarify and strictly handle the civil servants and the Chinese coast guard vessel causing the incident, not to repeat similar actions, and at the same time adequately compensate for the losses of Vietnamese fishermen.

On April 3, Spokeswoman of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry Le Thi Thu Hang quoted the country’s relevant agencies as reporting that the Vietnamese vessel, coded QNg 90617 TS, with eight fishermen on board, was fishing near Phu Lam island of Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago on April 2 when a Chinese coast guard ship hit and sank it.

She noted Vietnam has repeatedly affirmed that it has sufficient legal grounds and historical evidence testifying to its sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes in accordance with international law.

Such an act by the Chinese coast guard ship violates Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracel Islands, caused damage, and threatened the safety of life and the legitimate interests of Vietnamese fishermen.

It also went against the common perception of the two countries’ leaders on the humane treatment of fishermen and the Vietnam-China agreement on the basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues, and was in contrary to the spirit of the Declaration on Conduct of the Parties in the East Sea (DOC).

The move complicated the situation and was not conducive to the bilateral relations as well as the maintenance of peace, stability and cooperation in the East Sea, according to the spokeswoman.

In a diplomatic note delivered to a representative of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi on April 3, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam opposed the incident and requested that the Chinese side launch investigations and strictly deal with those involved in the incident.

Vietnam also asked China to provide Vietnamese fishermen with adequate compensation for the damage and ensure similar actions will not happen again in the future./.

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