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Vietnam protests China for attacking Vietnamese fishing boat, demands compensation

06:20 | 14/06/2020

The Vietnam Fisheries Society has strongly objected to China's actions after Chinese ships rammed and sunk a Vietnamese fishing boat by  near Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago in the East Sea (internationally known as South China Sea).

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vietnam protests china for attacking vietnamese fishing boat demands compensation
Nguyen Loc, the owner and captain of the local fishing boat. Photo: TPO

On the afternoon of June 13, the Vietnam Fisheries Society sent a document to the the Government Office, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Central Commission for External Relations to oppose China’ action after receiveing the news.

The fishing boat numbered QNg 96416 TS, from Vietnam's central province of Quang Ngai was chased, rammed and sunk by China’s steel vessel numbered 4006 and a motorboat near Hoang Sa archipelago, reported Thanh Nien (Youth) newspaper.

On June 12, Quang Ngai’s Border Guard received a report on the case from Nguyen Loc (42, from Ly Son district), the owner and captain of the local fishing boat.

Accordingly, on June 12, at Sa Ky Border Control Station (Quang Ngai province), the fishing boat, owned and controlled by Loc, with him and 15 other fishermen arrived from their fishing trip in the Paracels and reported that they had been attacked and had their catch and equipment taken by China’s vessels. 

Loc told the authorities that around 10 am on June 10, while fishing approximately 8 nautical miles to the south-southwest of Linh Con Island in the Paracels, his boat was chased by the China’s steel vessel numbered 4006 and a motorboat.

Linh Con Island is roughly 25 nautical miles southeast of Phu Lam (Woody) Island, the largest military base in the Paracels and one of China’s main administrative centers in the East Sea.

vietnam protests china for attacking vietnamese fishing boat demands compensation
The fishing rope of Vietnamese fishing boat with number QNg 96416 TS was cut. Photo: Le Chuong/Thanh Nien newspaper

The Vietnamese fishing boat overturned, with 16 local fishermen on board being thrown into the sea. Some 12 of them managed to hang onto basket boats, while three others climbed on board the Chinese ship.

The Chinese officials interrogated the fishermen, and forcefully took away one ton of seafood and fishing equipment from the Vietnamese fishing boat and damaged parts of it. The total damages suffered by the local fishermen are estimated at VND 500 million (USD 21.459).

As the captain, Loc was asked by the Chinese officials to sign a document. After refusing to sign, Loc was beaten and demanded to place a thumbprint in lieu of his signature. 

The Vietnamese fishermen managed to return to shore with help from other Vietnamese fishing boats.

vietnam protests china for attacking vietnamese fishing boat demands compensation
Location of the incident. Image: the South China Sea Chronicle Initiative

In the document issued to the Government Office, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Central Commission for External Relations, the Vietnam Fisheries Society said that China’s action "was inhumane and endangered the lives and properties of Vietnamese fishermen."

It asked authorities to vehemently object and demand that China stop all acts of obstructing, attacking and ramming Vietnamese fishing vessels while operating on the waters belonging to Vietnamese sovereignty, and to ask China to compensate for damage caused to Vietnamese fishermen.

Vietnamese law enforcement forces should also step up sea patrols to protect fishermen’s lives and properties, it added.

Spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on June 13 said the ministry's Consular Department and the Embassy of Vietnam in Beijing on June 10 engaged with the Chinese side to demand an official investigation and reports on the case for further settlement.

The Vietnamese mission affirmed Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, Hang said in response to Tuoi Tre newspaper’s questions.

“The MOFA has asked related agencies to work with the victims to clarify the case in order to make necessary engagement with Chinese officials to protect the fishermen’ legitimate rights,” Hang added.

According to her, the local fishing boat, had reportedly headed out to catch fish near the Hoang Sa archipelago in the East Sea on June 6. After the boat returned to the mainland, local authorities quarantined all the fishermen to prevent a COVID-19 infection.

This is the second time in less two months that Vietnamese fishermen were attacked by Chinese vessels.

China seized the Paracel Islands from South Vietnam by force in 1974, and has since been illegally occupying them.

In 2012 it built the so-called "Sansha City" with Phu Lam (Woody) Island as its seat, and has since built a runway capable of handling military aircraft and other supporting structures.

The so-called city also extends to a number of reefs in Vietnam's Spratly (Truong Sa) Islands that China seized by force in 1988 as well as the Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by the Philippines.

On May 1, 2014 China brought an oil rig, Haiyang Shiyou 981, and installed it in the waters off the Paracels, changing the status quo in the waters. Days after that, Chinese ships had chased after, fired water cannons at and rammed many Vietnamese fishing vessels near the islands.

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