TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Chinese fishing vessels in the South China Sea have been robbing and harassing Vietnamese fishermen, according to reports from Vietnamese media.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs lodged an official diplomatic protest with the Chinese embassy in Hanoi on Wednesday (June 19) after regular complaints about the conduct of Chinese fishermen.
VN Express reports that Chinese fishing boats in the region have been driving away Vietnamese vessels as well as occasionally seizing the catches, fishing equipment, and other property of the ships' crews, sparking public outrage.
The issue came to a head after a Vietnamese vessel with a 10-person crew was robbed of two tons of squid on June 2 near the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by both countries but controlled by China.
The ship was confronted by a Chinese vessel that issued death threats to the crew and then illegally boarded the boat and pilfered the entire catch, valued at over US$10,000, reports VN Express.
A spokeswoman for Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Le Thi Thu Hang, addressed the issue, calling on China to respond properly to the problem.
"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."
Chinese fishermen have acquired a reputation for acting like outlaws and bandits in the South China Sea.
Recently, in what many describe as a blatant attack, a Philippine fishing boat was struck by a Chinese vessel on June 9, causing the boat to sink. The Filipino fishermen were abandoned and left to die after the much larger Chinese vessel fled the scene.
Fortunately, the crew was rescued by a Vietnamese boat that was also fishing in the area.