On Sunday, the Vietnamese foreign ministry said that a Vietnamese fishing boat was attacked by two Chinese ships near the Paracel Islands, a Chinese-claimed archipelago in the South China Seas.
According to the ministry, a Chinese ship with the hull number 4006 pursued and collided with the fishing boat QNg 96416 TS at a position about eight nm off Lincoln Island, a Chinese-occupied land feature in the Paracels. 16 fishermen abandoned ship; the boat did not sink, and the Chinese vessel returned to pick up the crew and help dewater the boat.
According to Loc, the Chinese vessel confiscated his catch and some of his equipment, and its crew forced him to sign a document in a foreign language. Despite the ordeal, Loc and his crewmembers were able to return safely to Sa Ky, a fishing port outside of Quang Ngai.
In a statement, the Vietnam Fisheries Society noted that this is far from the first run-in between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels in the South China Sea. “Such actions by China have occurred many times and are increasing relentlessly, causing insecurity and discontent among Vietnam’s fishermen, reducing Vietnam’s fishing production, causing serious economic losses to fishermen, infringing on Vietnam’s sovereignty and violating Vietnamese and international laws,” the society wrote.
Vietnam has raised a formal objection about the case with the Chinese government.
“The Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vietnamese Embassy in Beijing discussed with China to assert Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracel Islands,” a Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesperson told Tuoi Tre. “The Chinese side investigated and verified the case information and notified the results to the Vietnamese authorities to continue coordinating.”
China has enacted a seasonal ban on fishing in the South China Sea above 12 degrees of latitude, effective May 1. China claims almost the entirety of the South China Sea, including waters within neighboring states’ EEZs. Both Vietnam and the Philippines have criticized the fishing ban, and Vietnam has announced that its fleet will not comply with the unilateral prohibition.