The Ministry of Foreign Affairs worked with representatives from the Chinese embassy in Hanoi on Wednesday to protest Chinese vessels’ actions in driving away Vietnamese fishing boats, confiscating properties and fishing equipment from Vietnamese fishermen in the Paracel (Hoang Sa) Islands of the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea.
It demanded that China handle the situation properly.
“Vietnam strongly opposes these actions and requests that China take strict action against the Chinese vessels, properly compensate the Vietnamese fishermen and educate Chinese crew members to refrain from repeating such acts in the future,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang told the press on Thursday.
The actions by Chinese vessels violate Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracels and its legitimate rights and interests in its waters. They also violate international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Hang said.
It also goes against the Vietnam-China Agreement on the Basic Principles Guiding the Resolution of Maritime Issues, threatening the lives and properties of Vietnamese fishermen active in the waters, she said.
Hang was responding to questions regarding recent reports of a Vietnamese fishing boat being chased way and having their properties and fishing tools robbed by a Chinese vessel in the Paracels.
At around 1:30 p.m. on June 2, a Vietnamese boat from the central province of Quang Nam with 10 crew members on board was anchored around 22 nautical miles from Triton Island off the Paracels when a Chinese-flagged vessel approached and issued death threats against them. Then a group of men from the Chinese vessel boarded the Vietnamese boat and took away two tons of squid worth more than VND250 million ($10,706).
In a document issued to the Government Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other governmental institutions on June 10, the Vietnam Fisheries Society protested the Chinese vessel’s action, which it said seriously violated Vietnam’s sovereignty.
Last March, Chinese vessel numbered 44101 rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat from the central province of Quang Ngai while it was fishing in the Da Loi (Discovery) Reef off the Paracel Archipelago, according to the National Incident, Natural Disaster Response and Search and Rescue Committee.
Following the incident, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed over a diplomatic note to representatives from the Chinese embassy in Hanoi to protest the Chinese vessel’s action and demanded due compensation for Vietnamese fishermen.
China seized the Paracel Islands from South Vietnam by force in 1974, and has since been illegally occupying the islands. In July 2012, China established a so-called “Sansha City” with Vietnam’s Woody Island in the Paracels as its seat.
The so-called city also covers a number of reefs in Vietnam’s Spratly Islands that China seized by force in 1988 and the Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by the Philippines.
In 2014 China brought an oil rig, Haiyang Shiyou 981, and installed it in waters off the Paracels, changing the status quo in the area. Soon after, Chinese ships chased, fired water cannons at and rammed many Vietnamese fishing vessels near the islands.