Taiwan’s representative office in Vietnam is looking into reports that a Taiwanese fishing boat was allegedly harassed by vessels from the Vietnamese Fisheries Administration in disputed waters in the South China Sea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hanoi has been in contact with Vietnam’s fisheries authority to identity the ships, which were reported to be Vietnamese government vessels, ministry spokesperson Calvin Ho (何震寰) said.
According to the ministry, the incident took place 790 nautical miles (1,463km) off the southeastern tip of Taiwan and 157 nautical miles northwest of Taiwan-controlled Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島).
The fishing boat, called the Lung Wang Li No. 97, is owned by Siaoliouciou (小琉球) Mayor Tsai Tien-yu (蔡天裕) and is registered in Liouciou Township (琉球), Pingtung County.
Tsai told reporters that he received a phone call from vessel skipper Tseng Hsin-hsing (曾新興) at about 5:39am saying that the boat was being intercepted by a ship from Vietnam.
The Vietnamese ship flashed a light at the Lung Wang Li No. 97 to tell the boat to stop and then directed the boat to sail toward Vietnam, Tsai said.
Half an hour later, the unidentified Vietnamese ship turned around and the Taiwanese boat changed direction and sailed at high speed toward Taiwan, he said.
Tsai said that at 7:30am the Taiwanese boat realized that it had been followed by four other Vietnamese ships for about 10 minutes.
The Coast Guard Administration said that it was informed by the Lung Wang Li No. 97 at 5:47am that it was being approached by another Vietnamese boat and that the personnel aboard intended to conduct a survey of their boat.
Tseng told the Coast Guard Administration at 7:45am that personnel aboard the Vietnamese ship had not boarded their ship and left, the agency said.
The Lung Wang Li No. 97 was to return to Taiwan yesterday night, the CGA said.
The circumstances leading to the allegations of harrassment were yet to be determined, but the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hanoi would register its concern to Vietnam about the importance of maintaining safe fishing operations, Ho said.
Taiwan’s Representative to Vietnam Huang Chih-peng (黃志鵬) said he had been informed of the case and was in close contact with Vietnamese officials.