Vietnam protests to China over South China Sea boat sinking
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that was being chased by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel in the disputed South China Sea, Vietnam said in late March 2019.
Vietnam and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have for years been embroiled in a dispute over the potentially energy-rich stretch of waters, called the East Sea by Vietnam.
The fishing vessel was moored near Da Loi island in the Paracel archipelago on March 6, 2019, when a PRC maritime surveillance vessel chased it and fired a water cannon at it, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The boat sank after hitting rocks while it was being chased. All five fishermen on board were rescued by another Vietnamese fishing boat, the ministry said.
A Vietnamese rescue agency said earlier that the PRC vessel rammed the fishing boat.
“The Chinese vessel committed an act that violated Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa archipelago, threatened the lives and damaged the properties and the legitimate interests of Vietnamese fishermen,” the ministry said in the statement, referring to the Paracel Islands by their Vietnamese name.
Vietnam had lodged a protest with China’s embassy in Hanoi and demanded that the PRC deal strictly with its maritime surveillance agency to prevent similar incidents and to compensate the fishermen fairly for their losses.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the Paracel Islands were China’s and Vietnam must immediately stop illegal fishing activities in the vicinity.
The fishing boat had already struck a reef and sunk before the PRC vessel arrived, he added.
“We hope the Vietnamese side can stop making things up.”
The Chinese Communist Party claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, where it has steadily expanded military and other installations on artificial islands and reefs, unnerving the region.
In addition to Vietnam, the nations of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan also have claims to parts of the sea. (Pictured: Southwest Cay, also known as Pugad Island, is controlled by Vietnam and is part of the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea.)