Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea.
The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday.
All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels operating nearby, the Vietnam Fisheries Society said in a statement posted to its Web site.
“The Chinese vessel committed an act that violated Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa archipelago and threatened the lives and damaged the property and legitimate interests of Vietnamese fishermen,” the ministry said in its statement, referring to the Paracels by their Vietnamese name.
Vietnam and China have for years been embroiled in a dispute over the potentially energy-rich stretch of water, called the East Sea by Vietnam. Taiwan also claims the Paracels.
The Vietnamese boat illegally entered the area to fish and refused to leave, the Chinese coast guard said on Friday.
After making some dangerous maneuvers, the boat collided with a Chinese patrol vessel and sank, the coast guard said in a statement on its social media account.
The coast guard also said it had made solemn representations with the Vietnamese side.
The incident marks the second time in less than a year that a Vietnamese fishing vessel has been reportedly sunk by a Chinese vessel near the Paracels.
A Chinese oil survey vessel conducted operations in Vietnamese-controlled waters for more than three months last year.
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